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The Hearn crest is " on 
a mount vert a heron 
arg./' and the motto 
*' Ardua petit ardea." 

Lafcadio Hearn and His Wife. 








Copyright, 1912, by 




No regret is vain. It is sorrow that spins the 
thready — softer than moonshine, thinner than 
fragrance, stronger than death, — the Gleipnir- 
chain of the Greater Memory. 


When Death has set his seal on an eminent man 's career, 
there is a not unnatural curiosity to know something of 
his life, as revealed by himself, particularly in letters to, 
intimate friends. **A11 biography ought, as much as possi- 
ble, to be autobiography," says Stevenson, and of all auto- 
biographical material, letters are the most satisfactory. 
Generally written on the impulse of the moment, with no 
idea of subsequent publication, they come, as it were, like 
butter fresh from the churning with the impress of the 
mind of the writer stamped distinctly upon them. One 
letter of George Sand's written to Flaubert, or one of 
Goethe's to Frau von Stein, or his friend Stilling, is worth 
pages of embellished reminiscences. 

The circumstances surrounding Lafcadio Hearn's life 
and work impart a particular interest and charm to his 
correspondence. He was, as he himself imagined, unfitted 
by personal defect from being looked upon with favour in 
general society. This idea, combined with innate sensitive 
shyness, caused him, especially towards the latter years of 
his life, to become more or less of a recluse, and induced 
him to seek an outlet in intellectual commune with literary 
comrades on paper. Hence the wonderful series of letters, 
edited by Miss Elizabeth Bisland (Mrs. Wetmore), to Kreh- 
biel, Ellwood Hendrik, and Chamberlain. Those to Pro- 
fessor Chamberlain, written during the most productive 
literary period of his life, from the vantage ground, as it 
were, of many years of intellectual work and experience, 
are particularly interesting, giving a unique and illumi- 
nating revelation of a cultured and passionately enthusi- 
astic nature. 



During his stay at Kumamoto, when the bulk of the let- 
ters to Chamberlain were written, he initiated a corre- 
spondence with his half-sister, Mrs. Atkinson, who had 
written to him from Ireland. His erratic nature, tamed 
and softened by the birth of his son, Kazuo, turned with 
yearning towards his kindred, forgotten for so many years, 
and these Atkinson letters, though not boasting the high 
intellectual level of those to Professor Chamberlain, show 
him, in their affectionate playfulness, and in the quaint 
memories recalled of his childhood, under a new and de- 
lightful aspect. 

There has been a certain amount of friction with his 
American editress, owing to the fact of my having been 
given the right to use these letters. It is as well, there- 
fore, to explain that owing to criticisms and remarks made 
about people and relatives, in Hearn's usual outspoken 
fashion, it would have been impossible, in their original 
form, to allow them to pass into the hands of any one but 
a person intimately connected with the Hearn family ; but 
I can assure Mrs. Wetmore and Captain Mitchell McDon- 
ald — those kind friends who have done so much for the 
sake of Hearn's children and widow — that ]\Irs. Koizumi, 
financially, suffers nothing from the fact of the letters not 
having crossed the Atlantic. 

Besides being indebted to Mrs. Atkinson for having been 
allowed to make extracts from the letters written to her, 
my thanks are due to Miss Edith Hardy, her cousin, for 
the use of diaries and reminiscences; also to the Rev. 
Joseph Guinan, of Priests* House, Ferbane, for having put 
me in communication with the ecclesiastical authorities at 
Ushaw; also to Mr. Achilles Daunt, of Kilcascan Castle, 
County Cork, who was apparently Laf cadio 's most intimate 
comrade at Ushaw, and was therefore able to give me much 
information concerning his college career. 

I must also express my indebtedness to friends in Japan, 



to Mr. W. B. Mason, who was so obliging and helpful when 
Mrs. Atkinson, her daughter and I arrived as strangers at 
Yokohama; also to Mr. Robert Young, who gave me copies 
of all the leading articles written by Hearn during the 
period of his engagement as sub-editor to the Kobe Chron- 
icle and Japan Mail. 

But still more are my thanks due to the various American 
publishers of Hearn 's works for permission to make quo- 
tations from them ; to ]\Iessrs. Macmillan & Co., New York, 
for permission to quote from **Kotto" and "Japan, an 
Attempt at Interpretation " ; to Messrs. Little, Brown & 
Co., Boston, for permission to quote from "Exotica and 
Retrospectives," "In Ghostly Japan," " Shadowings, " and 
"A Japanese Miscellany"; to Messrs. Gay & Hancock for 
permission to quote from "Kokoro"; to Messrs. Harper 
for permission to quote from "Two Years in the French 
"West Indies"; and, above all, to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin 
& Co. for permission to quote from "Glimpses of Unfa- 
miliar Japan," and Hearn 's "Letters," for without quot- 
ing from his letters it would be an almost futile task to 
attempt to write a biography of Lafcadio Hearn. 

"What a pathos there is in the thought, that only since 
Lafcadio Hearn became "a handful of dust in a little 
earthen pot" hidden away in a Buddhist grave in Japan, 
has real appreciation of his genius reached England. On 
the top of the hill at Nishi Okubo, isolated from the sound 
of English voices, cut off from the clasp of English hands, 
he was animated by an intense longing for appreciation 
and recognition in the Anglo-Saxon literary world. "At 
last," he writes to a friend, "you 'v\dll be glad to hear that 
my books are receiving some little attention in England," 
and again, "Favourable criticism in England is worth a 
great deal more than favourable criticism elsewhere. * ' 

How overwhelmed he would have been to find his name 
now bracketed amongst the nineteenth century's best- 



known prose writers, to whom he looked up from the depths 
of his own imagined insignificance. Indeed, in that coun- 
try where he longed for appreciation, the idea is gradually 
growing, that when many shining lights in the literary 
world of to-day stand unread on topmost library shelves, 
Lafcadio Hearn will still be studied by the scientist, and 
valued by the cultured, because of the subtle comprehen- 
sion and sympathy with which he has presented, in ex- 
quisite language, a subject of ever-increasing importance 
and interest — the soul of the people destined, in the future, 
to hold undisputed sway in the Far East. 


Farnham Royal, 1911. 



I Eably Years : 1 

II Boyhood 23 

III Tramore 33 


V London 52 

VI Cincinnati 65 

VII Vagabondage 81 

VIII Memphis 88 

IX New Orleans 93 

X Wider Horizons 102 

XI Letters and Personal Characteristics . . . .111 

XII The Lady of a Myriad Souls 124 

XIII Religion and Science 137 

XIV West Indies 148 

XV Japan 160 

XVI Matsue 172 

XVII Marriage 179 

XVIII The Katchiu-Yashiki 187 


XX Out op the East 231 

XXI Kobe 238 

XXII Tokyo 260 

XXIII Ushigome 274 

XXIV NiSHi Okubo 286 

XXV His Death 299 

XXVI His Funeral 310 

XXVII Visit to Japan 313 

XXVIII Second Visit to Nishi Okubo 328 

Conclusion , 339 

Index • .. •» . . • «. ••. ... « v . • <. 351 



Lafcadio Heasn and his wife Frontispiece ^ 

Major Cha.eles Bush Heabn (Heabn's father) .... 16 i^ 

Mrs. Atkinson (Hearn's half-sister) 204 i^ 

Kazuo and his nurse 220 ^ 

Kazuo, aged about seven 228 ^ 

Dorothy Atkinson 232 *^ 

Kazuo, aged about seventeen 314 

Carleton Atkinson 318 ^-^ 




"Buddhism finds in a dewdrop the symbol of that other microcosm 
which has been called the soul. . . . What more, indeed, is man, 
than just such a temporary orbing of viewless ultimates — imaging 
sky, and land, and life — filled with perpetual mysterious shudderings 
— and responding in some wise to every stir of the ghostly forces that 
environ him? ... In each of a trillion of dewdrops there must 
be difi'erences infinitesimal of atom-thrilling and of reflection, and in 
every one of the countless pearls of ghostly vapour, updrawn from 
the sea of birth and death, there are like infinitesimal peculiarities. 
Personality, individuality, the ghosts of a dream in a dream! Life 
infinite only there is; and all that appears to be is but the thrilling 
of it — sun, moon, and stars — earth, sky, and sea — and mind and 
man, and space and time, all of them are shadows, the shadows come 
and go; the Shadow-maker shapes for ever." 

On the fly-leaf of a small octavo Bible, given to Charles 
Hearn by his grandmother, the following entry may be 
read: *' Patricio, Lafcadio, Tessima, Carlos Heam. Au- 
gust 1850, at Santa Maura." 

The characters are in cramped Romaic Greek, the paper 
is yellow, the ink faded with age. Whether the entry was 
made by Lafcadio 's father or mother it is difficult to say; 
one fact is certain: it announces the appearance on this 
world's stage of one of the most picturesque and remark- 
able figures of the end of the last century. 

Those who like to indulge in the fascinating task of 



tracing the origin of genius will find few instances offering 
more striking coincidences or curious ancestral inheritances 
than that afforded by Lafcadio Hearn. 

On his father's side he came of the Anglo-Hibernian 
stock — mixture of Saxon and Celt — which has produced 
poets, orators, soldiers, signal lights in the political, lit- 
erary, and military history of the United Kingdom for the 
last two centuries. "We have no proof that Lafcadio 's 
grandfather — as has been stated — came over with Lionel 
Sackville, Duke of Dorset, w^hen he was appointed lord 
lieutenant of Ireland in 1731. The Rev. Daniel Hearn 
undoubtedly acted as private chaplain to His Grace, and 
about the same time — as recognition for services done, we 
conclude — became possessed of the property of Correagh in 
the County of Westmeath. 

A Roman Catholic branch of the Hearn family is to be 
found in County Waterford — has been settled there for 
centuries. At Tramore, the seaside place near the city of 
Waterford, where Lafcadio spent several summers at the 
Molyneuxs' house with his great-aunt, Mrs. Brenane, the 
Rev. Thomas Hearn is still remembered as a prominent 
figure in the Roman Catholic movement against Protestant- 
ism. He founded the present cathedral, also the Catholic 
College in Waterford, and introduced one of the first of 
the Conventual Orders into the South of Ireland. It is 
through these Waterford Hearns that Henry Molyneux 
claimed relationship with the County Westmeath portion 
of the family. 

As to the English origin of the family, the Irish Hearns 
have an impression that it was a West Country (Somerset- 
shire) stock. Records certainly of several Daniel Hearns 
— it is the Christian name that furnishes the clue — occur 
in ecclesiastical documents both in Wiltshire and Somer- 

In Burke ^s *^ Colonial Gentry" there is a pedigree given 



of a branch of Archdeacon Hearn's descendants, who mi- 
grated to Australia about fifty years ago. There it is 
stated that the Hearn stock was originally "cradled in 
Northumberland." Ford Castle in that county belonged 
to the Herons — pronounced liearn — to which belonged Sir 
Hugh de Heron, a well-lmown North Country baronet, 
mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion." The crest, 
as with Lafcadio's Irish Protestant branch of Hearns, was 
a heron, with the motto, ''The Heron Seeks the Heights." 

]\Irs. Koizumi, Hearn's widow, tells us that her husband 
pronounced his name *'Her'un," ''and selected 'Sageha 
No Tsuru' — heron with wings down — for the design which 
he made to accompany his name and number at the Literary 
College, Tokyo University." There can be no doubt that 
the place-names and families, bearing the Hearn name in 
various countries, are of different, often entirely distinct 
origin. Nevertheless, the various modifications of the word 
— namely, Erne, Home, Hearn, Hern, Heme, Hearon, 
Hirn, etc., are derived from one root. In the Teutonic 
languages it is ii-ren, to wander, stray, err or become out- 
law. Hij-n, the brain or organ of the wandering spirit or 
ghost, the Latin errare and Frankish errant, with the Celtic 
err names are related, though the derivation comes from 
ancient, Indo-Germanic languages. In the West Country 
in England the name Hearn is well-known as a gipsy one, 
and in the "Provincilia Dictionary" for Northumberland, 
amongst other worthies of note, a certain "Francis Heron" 
or "Hearn," King of the "Faws" or gipsies, is referred to. 

I give all these notes because they bear out the tradition, 
stoutly maintained b}^ some members of the family, that 
gipsy blood runs in their veins. An aunt of Lafcadio's 
tells a story of having once met a band of gipsies in a 
country lane in Ireland ; one of them, an old woman, offered 
to tell Miss Hearn's fortune. After examining her hand, 
she raised her head, looked at her meaningly, and tapping 



her palm with her finger said, *'You are one of us, the 
proof is here." Needless to say that Lafcadio valued a 
possible gipsy ancestor more than all the archdeacons and 
lieutenant-colonels that figured in his pedigree, and was 
wont to show with much pride the mark on his thumb sup- 
posed to be the infallible sign of Romany descent. 

Some foreign exotic strain is undoubtedly very apparent 
in many members of the Hearn family. Lafcadio 's marked 
physiognomy, dark complexion, and black hair could not 
have been an exclusive inheritance from his mother's side, 
for it can be traced in Charles Hearn 's children by his 
second wife, and again in their children. This exotic ele- 
ment — quite distinct from the Japanese type— is so strong 
as to have impressed itself on Hearn 's eldest son by his 
Japanese wife, creating a most remarkable likeness between 
him and his cousin, Mrs. Atkinson's son. The near-sighted 
eyes, the marked eyebrows, the dark brown hair, the soft 
voice and gentle manner, are characteristics owned by both 
Carleton Atkinson and Kazuo Koizumi. History says that 
the original birthplace of the gipsies was India. Even in 
Egypt, the country claimed by the gipsies themselves as 
the place where their race originated, the native gipsy is 
not Egyptian in appearance, but Hindoo. Curious to 
think that Lafcadio Hearn, the interpreter of Buddhism 
and oriental legend to the West, may, on his father's side, 
have been descended from Avatars, whose souls were looked 
upon as gods, centuries ago, in India. 

On his mother's side the skein of Lafcadio 's lineage is 
still more full of knots and entanglements than on his 
father's. It is impossible to state with any amount of ac- 
curacy to what nationality Mrs. Charles Hearn belonged. 
It has been generally taken for granted that she was Greek ; 
Lafcadio used to say so himself. Some of the Hearns, on 
the other hand, maintain that she was Maltese, which is 
quite probable. Owing to the agricultural richness of the 



Ionian Islands, Italians, Greeks, Levantine Jews, and Mal- 
tese had all taken up their abode in the Sept-Insula at 
various times and seasons. Lafcadio's third name, Tes- 
sima, was his mother 's maiden-name, and is one that figures 
continually in IMaltese census- and rent-rolls. When Mrs. 
Hearn separated from her husband to return to her own 
family she went to Malta, not to the Ionian Islands. The 
fact, as Lafcadio states, that he could only stammer half 
Italian, half Romaic, when he first arrived in Dublin, rather 
points to a Maltese origin. What wild Arabic blood may 
he not, therefore, have inherited on his mother's side? 
For, as is well-known, in times gone by Arab tribes, mi- 
grating from the deserts of Asia and Africa, overran the 
shores of the Mediterranean and settled in Malta, inter- 
marrying with the original Venetian Maltese. 

'*We are all compounds of innumerable lives, each a sum 
in an infinite addition — the dead are not dead, they live 
in all of us, and move us, stirring faintly in every heart 
beat." Certainly Lafcadio was an exemplification of his 
own theory. During the course of his strange life all the 
characteristics of his manifold outcome manifested them- 
selves — the nomadic instincts of the Romany and Arab, the 
revolutionary spirit of the Celt, the luxuriant imagination 
of the oriental, with that unquenchable spark of industry 
and energy inherited from his Anglo-Saxon forbears. 

From the time they settled in Ireland the Hearns served 
their country for the most part in church and army. 
Lafcadio's grandfather was colonel of the 43rd Regiment, 
which he commanded at the battle of Vittoria in the Penin- 
sular War. He married Elizabeth Holmes, member of a 
family distinguished in Irish legal and literary circles. 
To her children she bequeathed musical and artistic gifts 
of no mean order. From his father Lafcadio inherited a 
remarkable aptitude for drawing, and, as is easy to see 
from his letters to Krehbiel, an ardent love of music. 



Elizabeth Holmes ^s second son, Richard Holmes Hearn, 
insisted while quite a boy on setting forth to study art in 
the studios in Paris. He never made money or a great 
name, but some of his pictures, inspired by the genius of 
Corot and Millet, are very suggestive and beautiful. He 
was quite as unconventional in his mode of thought, and 
quite as erratic and unbusinesslike as his famous nephew 
— *' Veritable blunderers," as Lafcadio says, *'in the ways 
of the world. ' ' 

Writing from Japan to his half-sister, Mrs. Atkinson, 
about some photographs she had sent him of her children, 
he says: **They seem to represent new types; that makes 
no difference in one sense and a good deal of difference in 
another. I think, though I am not sure, as I have never 
known you or the other half-sister, that we Hearns all 
lacked something. The something is very much lacking in 
me, and in my brother. I mean * force' ... I think 
we of father's blood are all a little soft of soul . . . 
very sweet in a woman, not so good in a man. What you 
call the 'strange mixture of weakness and firmness' is es- 
sentially me ; my firmness takes the shape of an unconquer- 
able resistance in particular directions — guided by feeling 
mostly, and not always in the directions most suited to my 
interests. There must have been very strong characteris- 
tics in father's inheritance to have made so strong a re- 
semblance in his children by two different mothers — and 
I want so much to find out if the resemblance is also psycho- 
logical. ' ' 

Charles Bush Hearn, Lafcadio 's father, elected to enter 
the army, as his father and grandfather had done before 
him. According to Hart's *'Army List" he joined the 
45th Nottinghamshire Regiment of Foot as assistant sur- 
geon on April 15th, 1842. In the year 1846 he wa.s sent 
on the Medical Staff to Corfu. The revolutionary spirit 
which swept over Europe in 1849 infected the Ionian 



Islands as well as the mainland of Greece. At Cephalonia 
they nominated a regent of their own nationality, and 
strenuous efforts were made to shake off the yoke of the 
English government. At the request of Viscount Seaton, 
the then governor, additional troops were sent from Eng- 
land to restore order. When they arrived, they, and the 
other regiments stationed at Corfu, were quartered on the 
inhabitants of the various islands. 

Oriental ideas on the subject of women still existed in 
this half -Eastern region. Ladies hardly ever appeared at 
any of the entertainments. If a dinner was given none but 
men were present. Many stories were told of the expedi- 
ents resorted to by English officers in their endeavours to 
institute a closer intercourse with the female portion of 
the population. Now that troops were quartered in their 
homes this state of things was speedily changed. Young 
ladies were induced to join their guests in riding, boating, 
and walking expeditions. Picnics were instituted at which 
people got lost in the woods, and did not return until the 
small hours of the morning, pleasure boats went ashore, 
necessitating the rescue of lovely ladies from the danger of 
the deep; the so-called ^'pleasure boats" being presumably 
some of the numerous ferry boats that plied to and fro 
between the islands. 

But in telling the love story of Charles Heam and Rosa 
Tessima, there is really no need to conjure up imaginary 
shipwrecks, or lost pathways. Good-looking, clever, a 
smart officer, handling sword or guitar with equal dex- 
terity, singing an Irish or Italian love song with a melodi- 
ous tenor voice, Charles Hearn was gifted with all the 
qualifications for the captivation of a young girl's fancy, 
and by aU accounts he had never allowed these qualifica- 
tions to deteriorate for want of use. 

Only the other day, I was looking over some old papers 
in an Irish country house with a friend. Amongst them 



we came across a poem by Charles Bush Hearn, written 
from Correagh, the Hearns' place in County Westmeath, 
to a lady who at that time was very beautiful and an heir- 
ess. A lock of hair was enclosed : — 

"Dearest and nearest to my heart. 
Thou art fairer than the silver moon. 
And I trust to see thee soon." 

There are quite half-a-dozen verses of the same quality 
ending up with the following : — 

"Adieu, sweet maid! my heart still bleeds with love 
And evermore will beat for thee ! ! '* 

**Alas, I am no poet!" Lafcadio exclaims, half a century 
later. The power of song was apparently not a gift his 
father had to bequeath. 

Before going to Corfu the young officer had fallen in 
love with a countrywoman of his own; means, however, 
were lacking on both sides, and she was persuaded by rela- 
tions to accept a richer suitor. While still smarting under 
the pangs of disappointed love, lonely, heartsore, Rosa 
Tessima crossed his path, and the fate of both was sealed. 
Where they met we know not. The Tessimas were in- 
habitants of the Island of Cerigo, but communication be- 
tween the islands was frequent. 

As to the stories, which subsequently drifted to relations 
in Ireland, of the girl's brothers having attacked and 
stabbed Charles Hearn in consequence of the injury done 
to their sister's reputation, it is more than likely they are 
entirely legendary. The Ionian male had no exalted opin- 
ion of women, and was not likely to resort to revenge for 
imaginary wrongs. There may have been some difficulty 
with regard to her dowry, as in those days the sons in- 
herited the land and were obliged, when a daughter left 
her paternal home, to bestow upon her the settlement she 



was entitled to ; this was sometimes accompanied by a con- 
siderable amount of friction. 

Lafcadio was born at Santa Maura, the modern name 
for the ancient Leucadia of the Greeks. Charles Hearn, 
presumably, was transferred there by some necessity in his 
profession as military surgeon. The island, excepting 
Corfu, is the largest in the Sept-Insula. On the southern 
extremity of the western portion of the coast is situated 
the rock whence Sappho is supposed to have sought "the 
end of all life's ends." Not far off stand the ruins of 
the Temple of Apollo. A few stones piled together still 
mark the spot where ceremonies were celebrated at the 
altar in honour of the sun-god. The groves of cypress and 
ilex that clothe the slope were in days gone by supposed 
to be peopled by the divinities of ancient Greece. A crys- 
talline stream of water, bubbling down the hillside by 
the temple wall, runs into a well, familiarly known as the 
Fountain of Arethusa. Standing in the courtyard of the 
temple a glimpse can be caught of the Island of Ithaca 
quivering in the luminous haze, with the Gulf of Corinth 
and the Greek hills beyond. 

Although he left the Ionian Islands in infancy, the idea 
of having been born surrounded by associations of the 
ancient Hellenic world — the world that represented for 
him the ideal of supreme artistic beauty — impressed itself 
upon Hearn 's imagination. Often, later, amidst the god- 
haunted shrines and ancient groves and cemeteries of 
Japan, vague ancestral dreams of the mystery of his birth- 
place in the distant Greek island with its classic memories, 
stirred dimly within him. After seeing, for instance, the 
ancient cemetery of Hamamura, in Izumo, he pictures a 
dream of a woman, sitting in a temple court — ^his mother, 
presumably — chanting a Celtic dirge, and a vague vision 
of the celebrated Greek poetess who had wandered amidst 
the ilex-groves and temples of the ancient Leucadia. . . . 



Awakening, he heard, in the night, the moaning of the 
real sea — the muttering of the Tide of the Returning 

Towards the end of 1851, England agreed to relinquish 
her military occupation of the greater portion of the Ionian 
Islands. The troops were withdrawn, and Charles Hearn 
received orders to proceed with his regiment from Corfu to 
the West Indies. With a want of foresight typically Hi- 
bernian, he arranged that his wife and two-year-old son 
should go to Dublin, to remain with his relations during 
the term of his service in the West Indies. The trio pro- 
ceeded together as far as Malta. How long husband and 
wife stopped there, or if she remained after he had left 
with his regiment, it is impossible to say. 

Years afterwards, Lafcadio declared that he was almost 
certain of having been in Malta as a child, and that he 
specially remembered the queer things told him about the 
Old Palace, the knights and a story about a monk, who, 
on the coming of the French had the presence of mind to 
paint the gold chancel railings with green paint. Pre- 
cocious the little boy may have been, but it is scarcely 
possible that his brain could have been retentive enough to 
bear all this in memory when but two years old. He must 
have been told it later by his father, or read a description 
of the island in some book of history or travels. From 
Malta Mrs. Hearn proceeded to Paris, to stop with her hus- 
band's artist brother, Richard. Charles Hearn had written 
to him beforehand, begging him to smooth the way for his 
wife's arrival in Dublin. His brother *'Dick" — indeed, all 
his belongings — were devoted to good-looking, easy-going 
Charles, but it was with many qualms and much hesitation 
that Richard undertook the task entrusted to him. 

Charles Hearn 's mother and an unmarried aunt, Susan, 
lived in Dublin at Gardner's Place. ''Auntie Sue," as 
the spinster lady is always referred to by the present gen- 



eration of Hearns, was the possessor of a ready pen. A 
novel of hers entitled "Felicia" is still extant in manu- 
script; the melodramatic imagination, lack of construction, 
grammar and punctuation, peculiar to the feminine ama- 
teur novelist of that day, are very much in evidence. She 
also kept a diary recording the monotonous routine usual 
to the life of a middle-aged spinster in the backwater of 
social circles in Dublin ; the arrival and departure of serv- 
ants, the interchange of visits with relations and friends; 
each day marked by a text from the Gospels and Epistles. 

Because of the political and religious animus existing 
between Protestants and Papists in Ireland, orthodox 
circles were far more prejudiced and bigoted than the nar- 
rowest provincial society in England. All the Hearns be- 
longing to the Westmeath branch of the family were 
members of the Irish Protestant squirearchy, leaders of 
religious movements, presiding with great vigour at church 
meetings and parochial functions; it is easy, therefore, to 
understand the trepidation with which they viewed the 
arrival of this foreign relation of theirs, a Roman Catholic, 
who would consort with priests, and indulge in religious 
observances hitherto anathema to thoroughgoing Protes- 
tants. Richard Hearn, thoroughly appreciating all the 
difficulties of the situation, thought it expedient, appar- 
ently, to leave his sister-in-law in Liverpool and go on in 
front, to propitiate prejudices and mitigate opinions. 

On July 28th, 1852, we read in Susan Hearn 's diary: 
''Dear Richard arrived at 10 o'clock from Liverpool, and 
was obliged to return at 7 o 'clock on Friday evening. We 
trust to see him again in the course of a day or two, accom- 
panied by Charles' wife and son. May Almighty God bless 
and prosper the whole arrangement." Kindly, warm- 
hearted maiden lady! Providence is not wont to prosper 
arrangements made in direct opposition to all providential 
possibilities. On July 29th she writes: *'A letter from 



Charles, dated the 25th June from Grenada, West Indies ! 
Dear, beloved fellow ! in perfect health, but in great anxiety 
until he hears of his wife and son's arrival. I trust we 
shall have them soon with us/' Then on August 1st: 
''Richard returned at 7 this morning accompanied by our 
beloved Charles' wife and child, and a nice young person 
as attendant. Rosa we are all inclined to love, and her 
little son is an interesting, darling child." The "nice 
young person" who came with Mrs. Hearn, as attendant 
and interpreter, was an important factor in the misunder- 
standings that arose between Rosa and her relations, and 
later, in the troubles between husband and wife. Mrs. 
Hearn, unable to speak a word of English, was influenced 
and prejudiced by meanings imparted to perfectly harm- 
less actions and statements. 

Probably sensitive to sunlight, colour, and climate, as 
was her son, having passed her life hitherto in a southern 
land amidst orange-groves and vineyards, overlooking a 
sea blue as the sky overarching it, it is easy to imagine the 
depressing influences to Rosa Hearn of finding herself be- 
neath an atmosphere heavy with smoke, and thick with 
fog, the murky, sunless world of sordid streets, such as 
constitutes the major portion of the capital of Ireland. 

The description, given by those who are impartial judges, 
rather divests Rosa of the poetical romance that her son 
has cast around her memory. She was handsome, report 
says, with beautiful eyes, but ill-tempered and unre- 
strained, sometimes even violent. Musical, but too indolent 
to cultivate the gift, clever, but absolutely uneducated, she 
lived the life of an oriental woman, lying all day long on 
a sofa, complaining of the dulness of her surroundings, of 
the climate of Ireland, of the impossibility of learn- 
ing the language. To her children she was capricious and 
tyrannical, at times administering rather severe castiga- 



When people fell short of the height to which he had 
raised them in imagination, when he discovered that they 
had not all the qualities he imagined them to possess, 
Lafcadio, as a rule, promptly cast them from their high 
estate, and nothing was too bitter to say or think of them. 
In his mother's case, before the searchlight of reality had 
time to dissipate the illusion, she had passed from his ken 

When his own life was transformed by the birth of his 
first child, the idea of maternal affection was deepened and 
expanded, and gradually became connected with a belief in 
ancestral influences and transmission of a *' Karma" ruling 
human existence from generation to generation. He then 
imagines the beauty of a mother's smile surviving the uni- 
verse, the sweetness of her voice echoing in worlds still 
uncreated, and the eloquence of her faith animating 
prayers made to the gods of another time, another heaven. 

Years later he makes an eloquent appeal to his brother, 
asking him if he does not remember the dark and beautiful 
face that used to bend over his cradle, or the voice which 
told him each night to cross his fingers, after the old Greek 
orthodox fashion, and utter the words, "In the name of 
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. ' ' 

When he saw his brother's photograph, his heart 
throbbed; for here, he felt, was the imknown being in 
whom his mother's life was perpetuated, with the same 
strange impulses, the same longings, the same resolves as 
his own. 

' ' My mother 's face only I remember, ' ' he says in a letter 
to his sister, Mrs. Atkinson, written from Kumamoto, ' ' and 
I remember it for this reason. One day it bent over me 
caressingly. It was delicate and dark, with large black 
eyes — very large. A childish impulse came to me to slap 
it. I slapped it — simply to see the result, perhaps. The 
result was immediate severe castigation, and I remember 



both crying and feeling I deserved what I got. I felt no 
resentment, although the aggressor in such cases is usually 
the most indignant at consequences/' 

The only person with whom Mrs. Charles Heam seems 
to have forgathered amongst her Irish relations was a Mrs. 
Justin Brenane — ^* Sally Brenane," Charles Hearn's aunt, 
on the maternal side. She had married a Mr. Justin 
Brenane — a Roman Catholic gentleman of considerable 
means — and had adopted his religion with all the ardour 
of a convert. Poor, weak, bigoted, kindly old soul! She 
and Mrs. Charles Hearn had the bond in common of be- 
longing to a religion antagonistic to the prejudices of the 
people with whom their lot was cast ; she also, at that time, 
was devoted to her nephew Charles. Never having had a 
child of her own, she longed for something young on which 
to lavish the warmth of her affection. The delicate, eerie 
little black-haired boy, Patricio Lafcadio, became prime 
favourite in the Brenane establishment at Rathmines, and 
the old lady was immediately fired with the idea of having 
him educated at a Roman Catholic school, and of making 
him heir to the ample fortune and property in the County 
of Wexford left to her by her husband. 

In the comfort and luxury of Mrs. Brenane 's house, Mrs. 
Charles Hearn found, for the first time since she had left 
the Ionian Islands, something she could call a home. She 
enjoyed, too, in her indolent fashion, driving in Mrs. 
Brenane 's carriage, a large barouche, in which the old lady 
*'took an airing '* every day, driving into Dublin when she 
was at her house at Rathmines for shopping, or to the ca- 
thedral for Mass. A curious group, the foreign-looking 
lady with the flashing eyes, accompanied by her dark- 
haired, olive-complexioned small boy, garbed in strange 
garments, with earrings in his ears, as different in appear- 
ance as was possible to the rosy-cheeked, sturdy Irish '*gos- 



soons*' who crowded round, gaping and amused, to gaze at 

Mrs. Brenane herself was a noteworthy figure, always 
dressed in marvellous, quaintly-shaped, black silk gowns. 
Not a speck of dust was allowed to touch these garments, a 
large holland sheet being invariably laid on the seat of the 
carriage, and wrapped round her by the footman, when 
she went for her daily drive. 

In July and August, 1853, there are various entries in 
Susan Hearn's diary, relating to her brother, Charles 
Heam, in the West Indies. Yellow fever had broken out 
and had appeared amongst the troops. Charles had been 
ill, **a severe bilious attack and intermittent fever.'* 
Then, on August 19th: ** Letters from dearest Charles, 
dated July 28th, in great hopes that he may be sent home 
with the invalids; so we may see him the latter end of 
September, or the beginning of October. ' ' Then comes an 
entry that he had '* sailed with the other invalids for 
Southampton. ' ' 

The prospect was all sunlight, not the veriest film of a 
cloud was apparent to onlookers; yet the air was charged 
with the elements of storm ! 

Charles Heam was a man particularly susceptible to 
feminine grace and charm. He found on his return a 
wife whose beauty had vanished, the light washed out of 
her eyes by weeping, a figure grown fat and unwieldy, 
lines furrowed on the beautiful face by discontent and 
ill-humour; but, above all other determining causes for 
bringing about the unhappiness of this ill-matched pair, 
Charles Hearn had heard by chance, from a fellow-officer 
on the way home, that his first love, the only woman to 
whom his wandering fancy had been constant, was free 
again, and was living as a widow in Dublin. 

"What took place between husband and wife these fateful 



days can only be surmised, but these significant entries 
occur in Susan Hearn's diary. "October 8th, 1853. 
Beloved Charles arrived in perfect health, looking well and 
happy; through the Great Mercy of Almighty God, my 
eyes once more behold him." *' Sunday, October 9th. 
Charles, his wife, and little boy, dined with us in Gardner 's 
Place, all well and happy. That night we were plunged 
into deep affliction by the sudden and dangerous illness of 
Eosa, Charles' wife. She still continues ill, but hopes are 
entertained of her recovery." After this entry the diary 
breaks off abruptly, and we are left to fill in details by 
family statements and hearsay. 

An inherited predisposition to insanity probably ran in 
Rosa's veins. We are told that, during her husband's 
absence in the West Indies, whilst stopping at Rathmines 
with Mrs. Brenane, she had endeavoured to throw herself 
out of the window when suffering from an attack of mania. 
Now, whether in consequence of the passionate jealousy 
of her southern nature, which for months had been worked 
upon by that "nice person," IMiss Butcher, or whether the 
same predisposition broke out again, we only know that 
the restraining link of self-control, that keeps people on 
the right side of the "thin partition," gave way. Gloomy 
fits of silence and depression were succeeded by scenes of 
such violence that the poor creature had ultimately to be 
put under restraint. The attack was apparently tempo- 
rary. Daniel James, her second son, was born a year later 
in Dublin, after the departure of her husband for the 

Charles Hearn was undoubtedly a most gallant soldier; 
he fought at the battles of Alma and Inkermann, through 
the siege of Sevastopol, and returned in March, 1855. 
After this his regiment was stationed for some little time 
at the Curragh. Years afterwards Lafcadio described the 
scarlet-coated, gold-laced officers who frequented the house 


Major Charles Bush Hearn (Hearx's Father). 


at this time, and remembered creeping about as a child 
amongst their spurred feet under the dinner-table. 

It is extremely difficult to make out how much the little 
fellow knew, or did not know, of the various tragic circum- 
stances that darkened these years — the unhappiness that at 
last led to the separation of his father and mother ; and the 
cloud that at various periods overshadowed his mother's 

In the series of letters written to his half-sister, Mrs. 
Atkinson, which, unfortunately, we are not permitted to 
give in their entirety, strange lights are cast on the course 
of events. **I only once," he says, '' remember seeing my 
brother as a child. Father had brought me some tin sol- 
diers, and cannon to fire peas. While I was arranging 
them in order for battle, and preparing to crush them with 
artillery, a little boy with big eyes was introduced to me 
as my brother. Concerning the fact of brotherhood, I was 
totally indifferent — especially for the reason that he seized 
some of my soldiers, and ran away with them immediately. 
I followed him; I wrenched the soldiers from him; I beat 
him and threw him downstairs; it was quite easy, because 
he was four years my junior. What afterwards happened 
I do not know. I have a confused idea that I was scolded 
and punished. But I never saw my brother again. ' ' 

The following reminiscence requires little comment: — 

"I was walking in Dublin with my father. He never 
laughed, so I was afraid of him. He bought me cakes. 
It was a day of sun, with rain clouds above the roofs, but 
no rain. I was in petticoats. We w^alked a long way. 
Father stopped at a flight of stone steps before a tall house, 
and knocked the knocker, I think. Inside, at the foot of 
a staircase a ladj^ came to meet us. She seemed to me tall 
— but a child cannot judge stature well except by com- 
parison. What I distinctly remember is that she seemed 
to me lovely beyond anything I had ever seen before. She 



stooped down and kissed me: I think I can feel the touch 
of her hand still. Then I found myself in possession of a 
toy gun and a picture book she had given me. On the way 
home, father bought me some plum cakes, and told me 
never to say anything to 'auntie' about our visit. I can't 
remember whether I told or not. But * auntie' found it 
out. She was so angry that I was frightened. She con- 
fiscated the gun and the picture book, in which I remember 
there was a picture of David killing Goliath. Auntie did 
not tell me why she was angry for more than ten years 

The tall lovely lady was Mrs. Crawford, destined later 
to be Laf cadio 's stepmother. By her first husband she had 
two daughters. The Hearn and Crawford children used 
apparently to meet and play together at this time in 

Mrs. "Weatherall, one of these daughters, tells me that a 
more uncanny, odd-looking little creature than Patricio 
Laf cadio it would be difficult to imagine. When first she 
saw him he was about five years of age. Long, lanky black 
hair hung on either side of his face, and his promi- 
nent, myopic eyes gave him a sort of dreamy, absent look. 
In his arms he tightly clasped a doll, as if terrified that 
someone might take it from him. 

"Tell Mrs. Weatherall I cannot remember the pleasant 
things she tells of — the one day's happy, play with a little 
girl," he writes from Japan to Mrs. Atkinson. *'I remem- 
ber a little girl, but it can't have been the same. I went 
into the garden. The little girl stood with one hand on 
her hips, and said: 'I think I am stronger than you. Can 
you runT I said angrily 'Yes.' 'Let us run a race,' she 
said. We ran. I was badly beaten. Then she laughed, 
and I was red with shame, for I felt my face hot. 'I am 
certainly stronger than you,' she said; 'now shall we 
wrestle ? ' I resisted rudely. But in spite of my anger she 



threw me down easily. ' Ah ! ' she said : — 'now you must do 
what I tell you.' She tied my hands behind me, and led 
me into the house to a cage where there was a large parrot. 
My hair was long. She made the parrot seize my hair. 
When I tried to get away from the cage, the parrot pulled 
lavagely. Then I cried, and the little girl sat down on 
the ground in her silk dress, and rolled with laughter. 
Then she called her mother to see. I hoped her mother 
'^ould scold her and free me. But the mother also laughed, 
and went away again, leaving me there. I never saw that 
little girl again. I think, though, that her name was Jukes. 
She seemed to me to feel like a grown-up person. I was 
afraid of her, and disliked her because she was cleverer 
than me, and treated me like a little dog. But Jiow I would 
love to see her now. I suppose she is the mother of men 
to-day — great huge men, perhaps generals, certainly 

''At all events, tell Mrs. W. that I wish, ever so much, 
she were a little girl again and I a little boy, and that we 
could play together like then, in the day I can't remember. 
Ask her if the sun was not then much larger, and the sky 
much bluer, and the moon more wonderful than now. I 
rather think I should like to see her. ' ' 

Poor Lafcadio! What pathos there is in the question 
*'Ask her if the sun was not then much larger, and the 
sky much bluer, and the moon more wonderful than now. ' ' 
Those were the days before the loss of his eye at Ushaw 
College had maimed his visual powers, and transformed 
his life. 

In his delightful impressionist description of a jour- 
ney made from Nagasaki to Kumamoto, along the shores 
of the Inland Sea, the same idea is repeated. As mile 
after mile he rolled along the shore in his kuruma, the 
elusive fragrance of a most dear memory returned to 
him, of a magical time and place ''in which the sun and 



the moon were larger, and the sky much more blue and 
nearer to the world/' and he recalls the love that he had 
cherished for one whom he does not name, but who I know 
to be his aunt, Mrs. Elwood, who ''softly ruled his world 
and thought only of ways to make him happy.'' Mrs. El- 
wood was an elder sister of Charles Hearn, married to 
Frank Elwood, owner of a beautiful place, situated on 
Lough Corrib in the County Mayo. She was a most de- 
lightful and ciever person, beloved by her children and 
all her family connections, especially by her aunt, Mrs. 
Brenane, who was often in the habit of stopping at the 
Elwoods' place with her adopted son. We can imagine 
her telling the little fellow stories, in the "great hush of 
the light before moonrise, ' ' and then crooning a weird little 
song to put him to sleep. "At last there came a parting 
day, and she wept and told me of a charm she had given 
which I must never, never lose, because it would keep me 
young and give me power to return. But I never returned. 
And the years went; and one day I knew that I had lost 
the charm, and had become ridiculously old. ' ' ^ 

"The last time I saw father was at Tramore," he tells 
his half-sister, when retailing further his childish mem- 
ories; "he had asked leave to see me. We took a walk by 
the sea. It was a very hot day; and father had become 
bald then ; and when he took off his hat I saw that the top 
of his head was all covered with little drops of water. He 
said : ' She is very angry ; she will never forgive me. ' 
'She' was Auntie. I never saw him again. 

"I have distinct remembrances of my uncle Richard; I 
remember his big beard, and a boxwood top he gave me. 
Auntie was prejudiced against him by some tale told her 
about his life in Paris." 

The year after his return from the Crimea, Charles and 
1 "Out of the East," Gay & Hancock. 



Kosa Heam's luckless union was dissolved by mutual con- 
sent. Gossip says that after her departure she married 
the lawyer (a Jew) who had protected her interests when 
she severed her connexion with Ireland; but we have no 
proof of this, neither have we proof of the statement made 
by some members of the Hearn family, that she returned 
a year or so later to see her children but was prevented 
from doing so. From what we know of Rosa Hearn, it 
is far more probable that, in the sunshine amidst the vine- 
yards and orange-groves of her own southern land, the 
gloom and misery of those five years in Dublin was sponged 
completely from the tablets of her memory. 

After the closing of the chapter of his first unhappy 
marriage, Charles Hearn married the lady he had been 
attached to before he met Rosa Tessima. At the Registra- 
tion Office in Stephen's Green, Dublin, the record may be 
seen entered of the marriage, in 1857, of Surgeon-Major 
Charles Bush Hearn, to Alicia (Posy), widow of George 
John Crawford. 

Immediately afterwards, accompanied by his wife, 
Charles Hearn proceeded with his regiment to India. His 
eldest boy he entrusted to the care of Mrs. Justin Brenane, 
who promised to leave him her money, on condition that 
she was allowed to bring him up in the Roman Catholic 

Neither Mrs. Brenane nor Charles Hearn reckoned with 
the spirit that was housed in the boy's frail body, nor the 
fiery independence of mind that made him cast off all 
ecclesiastical rule and declare himself, as a boy at college, 
a Pantheist and Free Thinker, thus playing into the hands 
of those who for purposes of their own sought to alienate 
him from his grand-aunt. 

Daniel James, the second boy, was ultimately sent to his 
Uncle Richard in Paris. 

Of his father, Lafcadio retained but a faint memory. 



In an article written upon Lafcadio after his death, Mr. 
Tunison, his Cincinnati friend, says he used often to refer 
to a ** blonde lady,*' who had wrecked his childhood, and 
been the means of separating him from his mother. His 
father used to write to him from India, he tells Mrs. At- 
kinson, "printing every letter with the pen, so that I could 
read it. I remember he told me something about a tiger 
getting into his room. I never wrote to him, I think 
Auntie used to say something like this: *I do not forbid 
you to write to your father, child,' but she did not look 
as though she wished me to, and I was lazy. ' ' 

Lafcadio and his father never met again, for on Novem- 
ber 21st, 1866, on his return journey to England, Surgeon- 
Major Charles Bush Hearn died of Indian fever, on board 
the English steamship Mula at Suez, thus ending a dis- 
tinguished career, and a military service of twenty-four 

With the separation of his parents, Lafcadio 's childhood 
came to an end. "We now have to follow the development 
of this strange, undisciplined nature, through boyhood into 
manhood, and ultimately to fame, remembering always that 
henceforth he was unprotected by a father's advice or care, 
unsoothed by a mother's tenderness — that tenderness gen- 
erally most freely bestowed on those least likely to conquer 
in the arena of life. 




"You speak about that feeling of fulness of the heart with which 
we look at a thing — half-angered by inability to analyse within our- 
selves the delight of the vision. I think the feeling is unanalysable, 
simply because, as Kipling says, 'the doors have been shut behind us.' 
The pleasure you felt in looking at that tree, was it only your pleas- 
ure, no, — many who would have loved you, were looking through 
you and remembering happier things. The different ways in which 
different places and things thus make appeal would be partly ex- 
plained; — the supreme charm referring to reminiscences reaching 
through the longest chain of life, and the highest. But no pleasure 
of this sort can have so ghostly a sweetness as that which belongs 
to the charm of an ancestral home. Then how much dead love lives 
again, how many ecstasies of the childhoods of a hundred years 
must revive!" 

Most of Lafcadio's life while with Mrs. Brenane seems 
to have been passed in Dublin, at her house, 73, Upper 
Leeson Street; at Tramore, a seaside place on the coast of 
Waterford in Ireland; at Linkfield Place, Redhill, Surrey, 
a house belonging to Henry Molyneux, a Roman Catholic 
friend of Mrs. Brenane 's — destined to play a considerable 
part in the boy's life — and in visiting about among Mrs. 
Brenane 's relatives, whose name was legion. 

Mrs. Brenane, when left a widow, lived occasionally in 
a small house, Kiltrea, situated on the Brenane property, 
near Enniscorthy. We have records of Charles Hearn, 
Mrs. Brenane 's favourite nephew, and his sister, Miss 
Hearn, visiting her there, but can nowhere hear of Lafcadio 
stopping in Wexford. In 1866, the old lady lost her 



money, and Kiltrea was let to a Mr. Cookman, whose son 
lives there now. 

Mrs. Wetmore, in her sketch of Hearn's life, states that 
he *' seems to have been removed about his seventh year 
to Wales, and from thenceforward only to have visited 
Ireland occasionally." This erroneous idea — common to 
most of Hearn's biographers — has originated from Heam 
himself. He later makes allusions to journeyings in Eng- 
land and Wales, but never mentions Ireland. This is typ- 
ical of his sensitive, capricious genius. Ireland was con- 
nected with unpleasant memories; he therefore preferred 
to transplant his imaginings to a more congenial at- 
mosphere. Besides which, in his later years, he was fasci- 
-nated by the descriptions of Welsh scenery given in 
Borrow 's *'Wild Wales," and De Quincey's *' Wanderings 
in Wales." 

Interpolated between a story of grim Japanese goblinry, 
and a delightful dream of the fairyland of Horai, in 
*'Kwaidan,"^ one of Hearn's last books, there is a sketch 
called "Hi-Mawari" (Sunflower), the scene of which is 
undoubtedly laid in Ireland, at the Elwoods' place; and 
* ' the dearest and fairest being in his little w^orld, ' ' alluded 
to here, and in his *' Dream of a Summer's Day," is his 
aunt, Mrs. Elwood. Beautiful as any Welsh hills are the 
Connemara Peaks, faintly limned against the forget-me- 
not Irish sky. But Lafcadio eliminates Ireland from his 
memory, and calls them *' Welsh hills." 

The ** Robert" mentioned in the sketch was his cousin, 
Robert Elwood, who ultimately entered the navy, and was 
drowned off the coast of China, when endeavouring to 
save a comrade, who had fallen overboard. Hence the 
allusion at the end of the essay . . . **all that existed 
of the real Robert must long ago have suffered a sea 

1 The publishers of "Kwaidan" are Messrs. Houghton, Miflflin & Co. 



change into something rich and strange." ** Greater love 
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a 

The old harper, *'the swarthy, unkempt vagabond, with 
bold black eyes, under scow^ling brows," was Dan Fitz- 
patrick of Cong, a well-known character in the County 
Mayo. One of his stock songs was ''Believe me, if all those 
endearing young charms. ' ' A daughter of his, who accom- 
panied her father on his tramps and collected the money 
contributed by the audience, was, a few years ago, still 
living in the village of Cong. 

Forty-six years later, noticing a sunflow^er near the Jap- 
anese village of Takata, memories of the Irish August day 
came back to him, the pungent resinous scent of the fir- 
trees, the law^n sloping down to Lough Corrib, his cousin 
Robert standing beside him while they watched the harper 
place his harp upon the doorstep, and troll forth — 

"Believe me, if all those endearing young charms. 
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day . . ." 

The only person he had ever heard sing these words be- 
fore was she who was enshrined in the inmost sanctuary 
of his childish heart. All Charles Hearn's sisters were 
musical; but above all Mrs. Elwood was famous for her 
singing of Moore's melodies. The little fellow was indig- 
nant that a coarse man should dare to sing the same 
words; but, with the utterance of the syllables *' to-day," 
the corduroy-clad harper's voice broke suddenly into pa- 
thetic tenderness, and the house, and lawn, and everything 
surrounding the boy, trembled and swam in the tears that 
rose to his eyes. 

In a letter to his half-sister, written probably Novem- 
ber, 1891, he thus alludes to the Elwoods: ''I remember 
a cousin, Frank Elwood, ensign in the army. I disliked 
him, because he used to pinch me when I w^as a child. 



He was a handsome fellow, I liked to see him in his uni- 
form. I forget when I saw my cousin, Robert Elwood, 
last. I might have been eight or nine years old — I might 
have been twelve. And that's all." 

It was customary, in the middle of last century, for Irish 
people, who could afford it, to cross St. George's Channel 
for their summer holiday. 

Mrs. Brenane, his grand-aunt, passed several summers 
at Bangor. These visits seemed to have been some of the 
happiest periods in Lafcadio's life. He was then the 
adopted child of a rich old lady, pampered, spoilt, and 
made much of by all the members of her circle. Car- 
narvon Castle was a favourite resort; there Lafcadio had 
his first experience of the artistic productions of the Far 

One season he was sent with his nurse to reside in the 
cottage of a sea-captain, whose usual ''run" had been to 
China and Japan. Piled up in every corner of the little 
house were eastern grotesqueries, ancient gods, bronze im- 
ages, china animals. We can imagine the ghostly influ- 
ence these weird curiosities would exercise over the sensi- 
tive brain of a lonely little boy. Years after, writing to 
Krehbiel, he gives a vivid description of a Chinese gong 
that hung on an old-fashioned stand in the midst of the 
heterogeneous collection. When tapped with a leather 
beater, it sobbed, like waves upon a low beach . . . 
and with each tap the roar grew deeper and deeper, till it 
seemed like an abyss in the Cordillera, or a crashing of 
Thor's chariot wheels. 

By his own showing, Lafcadio must have been a most 
difficult boy to manage. He tells his half-sister, should 
any thought come to her that it would have been better 
that they could have grown up together, she ought to dis- 
miss it at once as mere vexation of spirit. *'We were too 
much alike as little ones to have loved each other properly ; 



and I was, moreover, what you were not, wilful beyond 
all reason, and an incarnation of the spirit of contrariness. 
We should have had the same feelings in other respects; 
but they would have made us fall out, except when we 
would have united against a common oppressor. Character 
is finally shaped only by struggle, I fancy; and assuredly 
one can only learn the worth of love and goodness by a 
large experience of their opposites. I think I have been 
tolerably well ripened by the frosts of life, and that I should 
be a good brother now. I should not have been so as a 
child; I was a perfect imp." 

Heam's widow, i\Irs. Koizumi, told us that often when 
watching his children at play he would amuse them with 
anecdotes of what he himself was as a child. Apparently, 
from his earliest days, he was given to taking violent likes 
and dislikes, always full of whims and wild imaginings, 
up to any kind of prank, with a genius for mischief — 
traps arranged with ink-bottles above doors so that when 
the door was opened, the ink-bottle would fall. One lady, 
apparently, was the object he selected for playing off 
most of his practical jokes. '' She was a hj^pocrite and I 
could not bear her. When she tapped my head gently, 
and said 'Oh, you dear little fellow,' I used to call at her, 
*Osekimono' (flatterer) and run away and hide myself." 

He hated meat, but his grand-aunt would insist on his 
eating it; when she wasn't looking he would hide it away 
in the cupboard, where, days after, she would discover it 

Surely it was the irony of fate that gave such a creature 
of fire and touchwood, with quivering nerves and abnormal 
imagination, into the charge of an injudicious, narrow- 
minded, bigoted person, such as Sally Brenane; and yet 
she was very fond of him, and he of her. At Tramore, an 
old family servant said that he used to ''follow her about 
like a lap-dog. ' ' 



But it was Mrs. Brenane 's maid, his nurse as well, Kate 
Mythen, who was one of the principal influences in his 
life, in these days at Tramore, and Redhill, before he went 
to Ushaw. To Kate's care he was, to a great extent, com- 
mitted. As Robert Louis Stevenson used to make Allison 
Cunningham, or '*Cummie," the confidante of his childish 
woes, and joys, and imaginings, so Lafcadio Hearn com- 
municated to Kate Mythen all that was in his strange 
little heart and imaginative brain. But *'Cummie'^ was 
staunch, with the old Scotch Covenanter staunchness. The 
last book Stevenson wrote was sent to her with **the love 
of her boy." After he left Ushaw, Lafcadio Hearn never 
saw Kate Mythen and held no communion with her of 
any kind. She must have known of the banishment of 
the boy, of the alienation of his adopted mother's affections, 
of the transference of his inheritance to others, yet she 
died in Mrs. Molyneux's house at Tramore in 1903, only 
a year before her nursling, whose name then had become 
so famous; to her it was tainted and defiled, for had he 
not cast off the rule of Holy Mother Church, and declared 
himself a Buddhist and a pagan? Such is the power of 
priest and religion over the Celtic mind. 

Hearn 's references to the nameless terror of dreams, to 
which he was a prey in his childhood, especially as set 
forth in a sketch entitled *' Nightmare Touch," reveals the 
sufferings of a creature highly strung and sensitive to the 
point almost of lunacy. 

He was condemned, when about five years of age, it seems, 
to sleep by himself in a lonely room. His foolish old 
grand-aunt, w^ho had never had children of her own and 
could not therefore enter into his sufferings, ordained 
that no light should be left in his room at night. If he 
cried with terror he was whipped. But in spite of the 
whippings, he could not forbear to talk about what he 
heard on creaking stairways and saw behind the folds of 



curtains. Though harshly treated at school, he was hap- 
pier there than at home, because he was not condemned to 
sleep alone, and the greater part of his day was spent with 
''living human beings" and not *' ghosts." 

The most interesting portion of Dr. Gould 's book, * ' Con- 
cerning Lafcadio Hearn," is that which treats of Heam's 
eyesight. As an oculist, he maintains that Hearn must 
have suffered from congenital eyestrain, brought on by 
pronounced myopia from his earliest childhood, long before 
the accident at Ushaw. 

The description that Hearn gives somewhere of the 
*' sombre yellowish glow, suffusing the dark, making objects 
dimly visible, while the ceiling remained pitch black, as if 
the air were changing colour from beneath," is a phenom- 
enon familiar to all who have suffered from eyestrain. 

After Heam's death, in a drawer of his library at Tokyo 
half-a-dozen envelopes were found, each containing a sketch 
neatly written in his small legible handwriting. He appar- 
ently had intended to construct a book of childish remin- 
iscences after the manner of Pierre Loti's *'Livre de la 
Pitie et a de la Mort." These sketches throw many side- 
lights on his early years, but, except the one named 
** Idolatry" they are not up to the level of his usual work. 
The material is too scanty, events seen through the haze of 
memory are thrown out of focus, unimportant incidents 
made too important. 

*'Only with much effort," he writes to Mrs. Atkinson, 
*'can I recall scattered memories of my boyhood. It seems 
as if a much more artificial self were constantly trying to 
speak instead of the self that is in me — thus producing 
obvious incongruities. ' ' 

**My Guardian Angel" relates the sufferings inflicted on 
his childish mind by a certain cousin Jane — apparently one 
of the Molyneux clan, a convert to the Roman Catholic 
church, who made the little fellow intensely unhappy by 



telling him that he would burn for ever in Hell fire if he 
did not believe in God. 

When she left in the spring he hoped she might die. 
He was haunted by fears of her vengeance during her ab- 
sence, and when she returned later, dying of consumption, 
he could not bear to be near to her. She left him a be- 
quest of books, of which he hardly appreciated the value 
then. It included a full set of the ''Waverley Novels,'* 
the works of Miss Edgworth, Martin's "Milton," Pope's 
"Iliad and Odyssey," some quaint translations of the 
"Arabian Nights," and Locke's essay on "The Human 
Understanding." Curiously enough, there was not a single 
, theological book in the collection. His cousin Jane's lit- 
erary tastes were apparently uninfluenced by her religious 

In 1859, Henry Molyneux was living at Linkfield Lodge, 
Linkfield Lane, Redhill. The Redhill of to-day, with its 
acres of bricks and mortar, its smart shops, its imposing 
Town Hall, and Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, 
is a very different place from the straggling village that it 
was in those days. The few gentlemen's houses were oc- 
cupied by business men, the London, Brighton and South 
Coast Railway being the first in England to run fast morn- 
ing and evening trains for the convenience of those who 
wanted to come and go daily to London. 

Mrs. Brenane seems to have been in the habit of going 
over periodically to Redhill from Ireland to stop with 
Molyneux and his wife. She had, at various times, in- 
vested most of her fortune left to her by her husband in 
Molyneux 's business, a depot for oriental goods in Watling 

When Henry Molyneux became bankrupt — we see his 
name assigned by the Court in the London List of Bank- 
rupts for 1866 — the house at Redhill was given up, and he 
and his wife, accompanied by Mrs. Brenane, settled perma- 



nently at Tramore, and there, apparently, when he was 
allowed to leave college, Lafcadio spent his vacations. His 
grand-aunt by that time had become a permanent inmate 
of the Molyneux establishment. 

Before I had seen the Atkinson letters, I wondered how 
much Hearn knew of the influences brought to bear on 
his life at this time. In the second Atkinson letter he 
openly reveals his entire knowledge of the incidents that 
appear to have deprived him of his inheritance. 

■Jesuits, he thought, managed the Molyneux introduc- 
tion — but was not sure. ''It was brought about by the 
Molyneuxs claiming to be relatives of Aunty's dead hus- 
band." (Here, Lafcadio was mistaken, for MoIaticux, on 
the contrary, declared himself to be connected with the 
Hearns and called himself Henry Hearn Molyneux.) 
"Aunty adored that husband," he goes on, "she was all 
her life troubled about one thing. When he was dying 
he had said to her: 'Sally, you know what to do with the 
property?' She tried to question him more, but he was 
already beyond the reach of questions. Now the worry 
of her whole life was to know just what those words meant. 
The priests persuaded her they meant that she was to 
take care the property remained in Catholic hands, in the 
hands of the relatives of her husband. She hesitated a 
long time; was suspicious. Then the IMohTieux people 
fascinated her. Henry had been brought up by the Jesuits. 
He had been educated for commerce, spoke four or five 
languages fluently. He soon became omnipotent in the 
house. Aunt told me she was going to help him for her hus- 
band 's sake. The help was soon given in a very sub- 
stantial way, by settling five hundred a year on the young 
lady he was engaged to marry. . . . ^Ir. Henry next 
succeeded in having himself declared heir in Aunty's will; 
I to be provided for by an annuity of (I think, but am not 
sure) £500. 'Henry,' who had 'made himself the darling,' 



was not satisfied. He desired to get the property into his 
hands during Aunty's life. This he was able to do to his 
own, as well as Aunty 's, ruin. He failed in London. The 
estate was put into the hands of receivers. I was with- 
drawn from college, and afterwards sent to America, to 
some of Henry's friends. I had some help from them in 
the shape of five dollars per week for a few months. Then 
I was told to go to the devil and take care of myself. I 
did both. Aunty died soon after. Henry Molyneux 
wrote me a letter, saying that there were many things to 
be sent me, etc., he also said he had been made sole Exec- 
utor, but told me nothing about the Will. (If you ever 
have a chance to find out about it, please do.) I wrote 
him a letter which probably troubled his digestion, as he 
never was heard of more by me. . . . There was a 
daughter, however, quite attractive. *My first love' — at 
fourteen. I used to write her foolish letters, and wore a 
lock of her hair for a year or two. . . . 

**Well, — there is enough reminiscences for once. If you 
wish for any more, little sister mine, I'll chatter another 
time. To-day, under pressure of work, I have to say good- 

** Lovingly ever, 

''Lafcadio Hearn.'' 

In another letter, he says, **I know Aunt Brenane made 
a Will; for she told me so in Dublin, when living at 73, 
Upper Leeson Street ; and I used to go to an aged Lawyer 
with her, but I can't remember his name. I don't think 
the matter is very important after all ; . but it might, if 
accurately known, give revelation about some other mat- 



"If you, reader, chance to be a child of the sea ; if in early child- 
hood, you listened each morning and evening to that most ancient 
and mystic hymn-chant of the waves, ... if you have ever 
watched wonderingly, the far sails of the fishing vessels turn rosy in 
the blush of sunset, or once breathed as your native air the divine 
breath of the ocean, and learned the swimmer's art from the hoary 
breakers. . . . When the long, burning summer comes, and the 
city roars dustily around you, and your ears are filled with the 
droning hum of machinery, and your heart full of the bitterness of 
the struggle for life, does not there visit you at long intervals in the 
dingy office or the crowded street some memory of white breakers 
and vast stretches of wrinkled sand and far-fluttering breezes that 
seem to whisper, 'Come!'? 

"So that when the silent night descends, you find yourself revis- 
iting in dreams those ocean shores thousands of miles away. The 
wrinkled sand, ever shifting yet ever the same, has the same old 
familiar patches of vari-coloured weeds and shining rocks along its 
level expanse: and the thunder-chant of the sea which echoes round 
the world, eternal yet ever new, is rolling up to heaven. The glad 
waves leap up to embrace you ; the free winds shout welcome in your 
ears; white sails are shining in the west; white sea-birds are flying 
over the gleaming swells. And from the infinite expanse of eternal 
sky and everlasting sea, there comes to you, with the heavenly ocean- 
breeze, a thrilling sense of unbounded freedom, a delicious feeling as 
of life renewed, and ecstasy as of life restored. And so you start 
into wakefulness with the thunder of the sea-dream in your ears and 
tears of regret in your eyes, to find about you only heat and dust and 
toil; the awakening rumble of traffic, and 'the city, sickening on its 
own thick breath.' " 

Tramore is situated six miles south of the city of Water- 
ford, at the end of a bay three miles wide. The facilities 



for sea-bathing and the picturesqueness of the surround- 
ing scenery have made it a favourite resort for the inhabi- 
tants of Waterford. On summer mornings when a light 
wind ripples the water, or on calm dewy nights when the 
stars rule supreme in a vault of purple ether, or on stormy 
days when the waves come rolling in, driven by the back- 
wash of an Atlantic storm, to break with thunderous 
clamour on the long stretch of beach, Tramore Bay pre- 
sents scenes striking and grand enough to stamp them- 
selves for ever on a mind such as Lafcadio Hearn's. 

There are periods, only to be measured by days, hours, 
seconds, when impressions are garnered for a lifetime. 
Amidst work that is stereotyped, artificial, the recollection, 
stirring in the artist's brain — perhaps after the lapse of 
years — of a day spent by the sea listening to the murmur 
of the waves, or sometimes even of only a ray of sunlight 
falling through a network of leaves on a pathway, or the 
scent of flowers under a garden wall, will infuse a fra- 
grance, a freshness, something elemental and simple, into a 
few lines of prose or verse, raising them at once out of 
dull common-place into the region of pathos, sometimes of 

Not seldom was Hearn inspired when he took pen in 
hand, but never so bewitchingly as when he described the 
sea, or set down, sometimes unconsciously, memories of 
these childish days. 

At the fishing village of Yaidzu on the coast of Suruga, 
twenty years later, while watching the wild sea roaring 
over its beach of sand, there came to him the sensation 
of seeing something unreal, looking at something that had 
no more tangible existence than a memory ! Whether sug- 
gested by the first white vision of the surf over the bamboo 
hedge — or by those old green tide-lines in the desolation 
of the black beach — or by some tone of the speaking sea, 
or by something indefinable in the touch of the wind, — or 



by all these — he could not say; but slowly there became 
defined within him the thought of having beheld just such 
a coast very long ago, he could not tell where, in those 
childish years of which the recollections were hardly dis- 
tinguishable from dreams. . . . 

Then he found himself thinking of the vague terror with 
which he had listened years before, as a child, to the voice 
of the sea; and he remembered that on different coasts, 
in different parts of the world, the sound of surf had 
always revived the feeling. Certainly this emotion was 
older than he was himself by thousands and thousands 
of centuries, the inherited sum of numberless terrors an- 

The quotation set at the beginning of this chapter, taken 
from a fragment entitled ' ' Gulf Winds, ' ' ^ shows his in- 
spiration at its best. Freeing himself from the trammels 
of journalistic work on the Commercial, while cooped up 
in the streets of New Orleans, he recalls the delight of the 
sea in connection with the Levantine sailors in the market- 
place, and breaks into a piece of poetic prose which I main- 
tain has not been surpassed by any English prose writer 
during the course of last century. 

*' Chita," Hearn's first work of fiction, is in no way an 
artistic production; it lacks construction and the delicate 
touches that constitute the skilful delineation of character ; 
but every now and then memories of his childhood fall 
across its pages, illumining them as with sudden light. 
Chitn, at the Viosca Cheniere, conquering her terror of 
the sea, and learning to swim, watching the quivering pink- 
ness of waters curled by the breath of the morning under 
the deepening of the dawn — like a far-fluttering and scatter- 
ing of rose leaves; Chita learning the secrets of the air, 

1 "Gulf Winds" is in print, but it is not known \vhen and where 
it was published. Dr. Gould quotes it in his book, "Concerning 
Lafcadio Hearn," published by Messrs. Fisher Unwin. 



many of those signs of heaven, which the dwellers in cities 
cannot comprehend, the scudding of clouds, darkening of 
the sea-line, and the shriek of gulls flashing to land in level 
flight, foretelling wild weather, are but reminiscences of 
his own childish existence at Tramore. 

For him, as for Chita, there was no factitious life those 
days, no obligations to remain still with every nimble 
nerve quivering in dumb revolt; no being sent early to 
bed for the comfort of his elders; no cruel necessity of 
straining eyes for long hours over grimy desks in gloomy 
school-rooms, though birds might twitter and bright winds 
flutter in the trees without. 

When Lafcadio returned to Tramore from Ushaw for 
his vacations, long days were spent boating or swimming. 
One old Wexford boatman was his especial companion. 
The boy would sit listening with unabated interest for 
hours to stories of shipwreck or legendary adventures, 
which every Irish fisherman can spin interminably; leg- 
ends of Celtic and Cromwellian warfare, of which the ves- 
tiges, in ruined castles and watch towers, are to be seen on 
the cliffs surrounding the bay. 

Kate Mythen, his nurse, was wont to say, that the small 
Patrick, as he was always called in those days, would re- 
count these yarns with many additions and embellishments 
inspired by his vivid imagination. Often too vivid, indeed, 
for not infrequent punishment had to be administered for 
his habit of *' drawing the long bow." 

Accuracy is seldom united with strong imaginative 
power, and certainly during the course of his life, as well 
as in his childhood, Hearn was not distinguished by accuracy 
of statement. 

The real companions of the boy's heart at that time were 
not those surrounding him — not his grand-aunt, or Kate 
Mythen, or the Wexford fishermen. Ideas, images, ro- 
mantic imaginings caught from books, or from wanderings 



over hill and dale, separated him from the outside world. 
While other children were building castles of sand on the 
beach, he was building castles with towers reaching to 
the sky, touched by the light of dawn and deepening fire 
of evening; impregnable ramparts over which none could 
pass and behind which, for the rest of his days, his soul 
entrenched itself. 

Lying on the sea strand, rocked in the old fisherman's 
boat, his ears filled with the echo of voices whispering 
incomprehensible things, he saw, and heard, and felt much 
of that which, though old as the heavens and the earth, 
ever remains eternally new, eternally mystical and divine 
— the delicious shock that follows upon youth's first vision 
of beauty supreme. The strange perception, or, as Hearn 
calls it, recognition, of that sudden power moving upon 
the mystery of thought and existence, was not to Hearn 
an attribute of this life, but the shadowing of what had 
been, the phantom of rapture forgotten, an inheritance 
from countless generations of people that had preceded 
him, a surging up from the *' ancestral sea of life from 
whence he came." 

It was probably here at Tramore that occurred the in- 
cidents recorded in the sketch called ''Idolatry." It is one 
of the half-dozen referred to as having been found amongst 
his papers after his death. 

His grand-aunt apparently, though a bigoted Roman 
Catholic convert, with a want of logic that was character- 
istic, had never given him any religious instruction. His 
boyish yearning for beauty found no spiritual sustenance 
except from an old Greek icon of the Virgin Mary, or ugly, 
stiff drawings of saints and patriarchs. One memorable 
day, however, exploring in the library, he found several 
great folio books, containing figures of gods and of demi- 
gods, athletes and heroes, nereids and all the charming 
monsters, half man, half animal, of Greek mythology. 



Figure after figure dazzled and bewitched him, but filled 
him with fear. Something invisible seemed thrilling out 
of the pictured pages ; he remembered stories of magic that 
informed the work of the pagan statuaries; then a convic- 
tion, or rather intuition, came to him that the gods had 
been belied because they were beautiful. The mediaeval 
creed seemed to him at that moment the very religion of 
ugliness and hate. 

The delight he felt in these volumes was soon made a 
source of sorrow; the boy's reading was subjected to severe 
examination. One day the books disappeared. After 
many weeks they were returned to their former places, but 
all unmercifully revised. The religious tutelage under 
which he was placed had been offended by the nakedness 
of the gods, parts of many figures had been erased with a 
penknife, and, in some cases, drawers had been put on 
the gods — large, baggy bathing drawers, woven with cross 
strokes of a quill pen, so designed as to conceal all curves 
of beauty. . . , The barbarism, however, he says, 
proved of some educational value. It furnished him with 
many problems of restoration; for he tried persistently 
to reproduce in pencil drawing the obliterated lines. 
By this patient study Greek artistic ideas were made 
familiar. . . . 

After the world of Hellenic beauty had thus been re- 
vealed, all things began to glow with unaccustomed light. 
. . . In the sunshine, in the green of the fields, in the 
blue of the sky, he found a gladness before unknown. 
Within himself new thoughts, new imaginings, dim long- 
ings for he knew not what, were quickening and thrilling. 
He looked for beauty and found it in attitudes and mo- 
tions, in the poise of plants arid trees, in long white clouds, 
in the faint blue lines of the far-off hills. At moments 
the simple pleasures of life would quicken to a joy so large, 
so deep that it frightened him. But at other times there 



would come to him a new, strange sadness, a shadowy and 
inexplicable pain. 

A new day had dawned for this impressionable, ardent 
young spirit; he had crossed the threshold between child- 
hood and youth; henceforth the ** Eternal Haunter" abode 
with him; never might he even kiss the hem of her gar- 
ment, but hers the shining presence that, however steep 
and difficult the pathway, led him at last into the '* great 
and guarded" city of artistic appreciation and accomplish- 




"Really there is nothing quite so holy as a College friendship. 
Two lads, absolutely innocent of everything in the world or in life, 
living in ideals of duty and dreams of future miracles, and telling 
each other all their troubles, and bracing each other up. I had such 
a friend once. We were both about fifteen when separated. Our 
friendship began with a fight, of which I got the worst; then my 
friend became for me a sort of ideal which still lives. I should be 
almost afraid to ask where he is now (men grow away from each 
other so) : but your letter brought his voice and face back — just as 
if his ghost had come in to lay a hand on my shoulder." 

St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, is situated on a slope 
of the Yorkshire Hills, near Durham. In the estimation 
of English Roman Catholics, it stands next to Stonyhurst 
as an educational establishment. Since Patrick Lafcadio 
Hearn's days it has counted amongst its pupils Francis 
Thomson, the poet, and Cardinal Wiseman, the archbishop, 
both of whom ever retained an affectionate and respectful 
memory of their Alma Mater. 

Lafcadio Hearn was sent there from Redhill in Surrey, 
arriving on September 9th, 1863, at the age of thirteen. 
Mrs. Brenane is not likely to have been a determining in- 
fluence in sending him to college. For all her narrow- 
minded piety, the old lady was warm-hearted and intensely 
attached to Lafcadio, and must have known how unfitted 
he was for collegiate life in consequence of constitutional 
delicacy and defective eyesight. 

We have seen, also, that she had little to do with his 



religious education. In a letter written from Japan to his 
half-sister, Mrs. Atkinson, Lafcadio declares that he was 
sent to a school **kept by a hateful, venomous-hearted old 
maid,'* but his idea must either have been prompted by 
a sort of crazy fear of the far-reaching power of the Jesuits, 
or by the inaccuracy of his memory with regard to many 
early impressions. 

That he was sent to Ushaw with a view to entering the 
priesthood is incorrect. The education at Ushaw is by no 
means exclusively devoted to preparing boys for the priest- 
hood. In a letter to his brother, he says : * ' You are mis- 
informed as to Grand- Aunt educating your brother for the 
priesthood. He had the misfortune to spend some years 
in Catholic Colleges, where the educational system chiefly 
consists of keeping the pupils as ignorant as possible. I 
was not even a Catholic.'* 

Monsignor Corbishly, the late ecclesiastical head of 
Ushaw College and a school-fellow of Lafcadio 's, stated 
that if there were any ideas on the part of Hearn's rela- 
tives that he should enter the priesthood, the authorities of 
Ushaw College, as soon as they had become aware of the 
** mental and moral tendencies'* of the boy, would have 
decided that he was quite unfit to become a member of 
the Roman Catholic priesthood. This disposes of one of 
the many Hearn myths. 

That non-success should have attended the endeavours 
of the authorities of Ushaw and that most of his contem- 
poraries, now shining lights in the Church of Rome, should 
refer to Lafcadio Hearn as a ** painful subject" was a 
foregone conclusion. The same fanciful, vagrant, original 
spirit that had characterised his childhood, characterised 
him apparently in his college career. Besides an emphatic 
antagonism to laws and conventions, a distinguishing char- 
acteristic of his was a horror of forms and ceremonies; 
one of the manifestations that fascinated him in Shintoism 



and Buddhism later was their worship of nature and entire 
absence of ceremonial or doctrinal teaching. 

All the aims and thoughts of his boyish heart were di- 
rected against prescribed studies and ordinary grooves of 
thought. A rebellion against restraint, a something ex- 
plosive and incalculable, places Hearn amongst those whom 
the French term desequilihres, one of those ill-poised and 
erratic spirits, whose freaks and eccentricities are so nearly 
allied to madness. 

Besides his rebellion against restraint, his dislike to eccle- 
siasticism was artistic and sesthetic. 

Before he came to college his mind, as we have seen, was 
kindled and informed with enthusiasm for natural beauty 
and the grace of the ancient Hellenic idea. And from na- 
ture and Hellenic ideas, Christianity, as exemplified by the 
Roman Catholic church, has always stood aloof. 

"I remember," he relates in one of his essays, **when a 
boy, lying on my back in the grass, gazing into the sum- 
mer blue above me, and wishing I could melt into it, be- 
come a part of it. For these fancies I believe that a re- 
ligious tutor was innocently responsible; he had tried to 
explain to me, because of certain dreamy questions, what 
he termed 'the folly and the wickedness of Pantheism,' 
with the result that I immediately became a Pantheist, at 
the tender age of fifteen. And my imaginings presently 
led me not only to want the sky for a playground, but also 
to become the sky!" 

That there were faults and misunderstandings and mis- 
taken ideas of discipline on the part of his preceptors is 
perhaps possible. Those were the days of *' stripes innu- 
merable," and what was a right-minded ecclesiastic to do 
with a boy, but thrash him, when, in the very stronghold 
of Catholicism, he declared himself a Pantheist ? 

If Monsignor Corbishly with his tactful and unprej- 
udiced mind had been at that time head of Ushaw, as he 



ultimately became, instead of a contemporary of Ilearn's, 
it is open to conjecture that the life of the little genius 
might have taken an entirely different course. Like his 
prototype, Flaubert, there was a fond d'ecclesiastique in 
Hearn's nature, as was proved by his later life. Had his 
earnestness, industry, and ascetic self-denial been appealed 
to, with his warm heart and pliable nature, might he not 
have been tamed and brought into line? 

It is the old story where genius is concerned. Because 
an exceptional youth happens to place himself in revolt 
against the system of a university, the authorities cannot 
remake their laws to fit into his eccentricity. Hearn, as 
he himself confesses, voluntarily handicapped himself all 
his life, and lost the race, run with stronger, better-condi- 
tioned competitors. But that he should have come away 
from Ushaw College, as he declares, knowing as little as 
when he entered, is plainly one of his customary exaggera- 
tions. The Reverend H. F. Berry, French master during 
his residence there, was certainly not competent to instil 
a finished French style into the future translator of **Syl- 
vestre Bonnard." But it is impossible that he could have 
left college entirely ignorant of English literature of the 
16th, 17th and 18th centuries, remaining, as he did, at the 
head of his class in English composition for three years of 
his residence at Ushaw. 

He himself gives a valid explanation for the reasons 
of his ignorance on many subjects. His memories, he 
says, *'of early Roman history were cloudy, because the 
Republic did not interest him; but his conceptions of the 
Augustan era remained extremely vivid ; and great was his 
delight in those writers who related how Hadrian almost 
realised that impossible dream of modern aesthetics, the 
'Resurrection of Greek Art.' 

*'0f modern Germany and Scandinavia he knew noth- 
ing; but the Eddas, and the Sagas, and the Chronicles of 



the Heimskringla, and the age of the Vikings and Berserks, 
he had at his finger ends, because they were mighty and 
awesomely grand." 

Ornamental education, he declared, when writing to Mr. 
Watkin from Kobe, in 1896, was a wicked, farcical waste 
of time. *'It left me incapacitated to do anything; and 
still I feel the sorrow and the sin of having dissipated ten 
years in Latin and Greek stuff, when a knowledge of some 
one practical thing, and of a modern language or two, 
would have been of so much service. As it is, I am only 
self taught ; for everything I learned at school I have since 
had to unlearn. You helped me with some of the unlearn- 
ing, dear old Dad! . . .'* 

In answer to a letter of inquiry. Canon D , one of 

those in his class at the time, writes: **Poor Paddy 
Heam! I cannot tell you much about him, but what 
little I can, I will now give you. I remember him as 
a boy about 14 or 15 very well. I can see his face now, 
beaming with delight at some of his many mischievous 
plots with which he disturbed the College and usually was 
flogged for. He was some two or three classes, or more, 
below my own, hence never on familiar terms. But he was 
always considered 'wild as a March hare,' full of esca- 
pades, and the terror of his masters, but always most kind 
and good-natured, and I fancy very popular with his 
school-mates. He never did harm to anybody, but he 
loved to torment the authorities. He had one eye either 
gone or of glass. There was a wildish boy called 'St. 
Ronite, ' ^ who was one of his companions in mischief. He 
laughed at his many whippings, wrote poetry about them 
and the birch, etc., and was, in fact, quite irresponsible. ' ' 

Monsignor Corbishly (during the latter years of his life 
head of Ushaw College) gives the following information 
about Laf cadio : — 
1 1 give tliis name as it is written in Canon D - "s letter. 



'^He came here from Redhill, Surrey, a few months 
after I did ; no one could be in the College without know- 
ing him. He was always very much in evidence, very 
popular among his school-fellows. He played many pranks 
of a very peculiar and imaginative kind. He was full of 
fun, wrote very respectable verses for a boy, was an om- 
nivorous reader, worshipped muscle, had his note-book full 
of brawny arms, etc. 

"As a student he shone only in English writing; he 
was first in his class the first time he composed in English, 
and kept first, or nearly first, all the time he was here, and 
there were several in his class who were considered very 
good English writers — for boys. In other subjects, he was 
either quite middling or quite poor. I do not suppose he 
exerted himself except in English. 

'*I should say he was very happy here altogether, had 
any amount to say and was very original. He was not 
altogether a desirable boy, from the Superior's point of 
view, yet his playfulness of manner and brightness, dis- 
armed any feeling of anger for his many escapades. . . . 
He was so very curious a boy, so wild in the tumult of his 
thoughts, that you felt he might do anything in different 
surroundings. ' ' 

Most of the accounts given by his school-fellows at the 
time repeat the same as to his wildness and his facility in 
writing English. In this subject he seems to have excelled 
all his school-fellows, invariably getting the prize for Eng- 
lish composition. Later, at Cincinnati, Lafcadio told his 
friend Mr. Tunison that he remembered, as a boy, being 
given a prize for English literature and feeling such a very 
little fellow, when he got up before the whole school to 
receive it. 

His appearance seems to have been somewhat ungainly, 
and he was exceedingly shortsighted. "When reading he 
had to bring the book very close to his eyes. He had a 



great taste for the strange and weird, and had a certain 
humour of a grim character. There was always something 
mysterious about him, a mystery which he delighted in in- 
creasing rather than dissipating. The confession which he 
is supposed to have made to Father "William Wrennal that 
he hoped the devil would come to him in the form of a 
beautiful woman, as he had come to the anchorites in the 
desert, was worthy of his fellow-countryman Sheridan, in 
its Celtic mischief and humour. 

Mr. Achilles Daunt, of Kilcascan Castle, County Cork, 
seems to have been Lafcadio's principal chum at Ushaw. 
Mr. Daunt has considerable literary talents himself, and 
has written one or two delightful books of travel. His 
reminiscences of Laf cadio Hearn at Ushaw are far the most 
detailed and interesting. He says that Lafcadio's descrip- 
tive talent was already noticeable in those days. The wild 
and ghostly in literature was what chiefly attracted him. 
** Naturally of a sceptical turn of mind, he once rather 
shocked some of us by demanding evidence of beliefs, which 
we had never dreamt of questioning. He loved nature in 
her exterior aspects, and his conversation, for a lad of 
his age, was highly picturesque. Knightly feats of arms, 
combats with gigantic foes in deep forests, low red moons 
throwing their dim light across desolate spaces, and glint- 
ing on the armour of great champions, storms howling over 
wastes and ghosts shrieking in the gale — these were favour- 
ite topics of conversation, and in describing these fancies 
his language was unusually rich. 

''I believe he was regarded as slightly off his mental 
balance. He and I were at one time in the same class ; but 
he was kept for two years inj I think, the class or ' school, ' 
as we called it, of 'High Figures.'^ This separated us a 

i"High Figures" is the name of a class or "Schoor* (as we call 
"classes" at Ushaw), e.g. Low Figures, High Figures, Grammar, 
Syntax, Poetry, Rhetoric, etc. If a boy is kept in the same school 



little, as the lads in the High Figures were not permitted 
to use the same library as we used in the * Grammar Class. ' 
A note was handed to me one evening from him as I sat 
reading in this library, inviting me to take a stroll. The 
style of this epistle was eminently characteristic of his 
tastes and style, and although it is now more than forty 
years ago, I think the following is very nearly a correct 
copy of it : — 

" nVIeet me at twelve at the Gothic door, 
Massive and quaint, of the days of yore; 
When the spectral forms of the mighty dead 
Glide by in the moonlight with silent tread; 
When the owl from the branch of the blasted oak 

Shrieks forth his note so wild, 
And the toad from the marsh echoes with croak 

In the moonlight soft and mild, 
When the dead in the lonely vaults below 

Rise up in grim array 
And glide past with footsteps hushed and slow. 

Weird forms, unknown in day; 
When the dismal death-bells clang so near, 

Sounding o'er world and lea, 
And the wail of the spirits strikes the ear 

Like the moan of the sobbing sea.' 

**He was always at school called Paddy. He would 
never tell what the initial 'L' stood for; probably fearing 
that his companions would make sport of a name which 
to them would seem outlandish, or at least odd. His face 
usually bore an expression of sadness, although he now 
and then romped as gaily as any of his comrades. But the 
sadness returned when the passing excitement was over. 

or class for two years, e. g. High Figures, it is owing to his not 
being fit to be moved up into the next class, Grammar. Each class 
has its own library, so that a boy in the class of High Figures would 
not be allowed to intrude into the Library of the school or class 
above him. Grammar. 



He eared little, or not at all, for school games, cricket, 
football, etc., and this not merely because of his want of 
sight, but because they failed to interest him. I and he 
were in the habit of walking round the shrubberies in the 
front of the College, indulging our tastes in fanciful con- 
versation until the bell summoned us again to study. 

* ' A companion one day alluded to the length of his home 
address. Lafcadio said his address was longer — *P. L. 
Hearn, Esq., Ushaw College, near Durham, England, Eu- 
rope, Eastern Hemisphere, The Earth, Universe, Space, 
God.' His companion allowed that his address was more 

'*You ask if Hearn ever spent his holidays with relatives 
in Ireland or Wales. As far as I can remember, he lat- 
terly never left Ushaw during the vacations. He was 
reticent regarding his family, and although I believe I was 
his most intimate friend I cannot recall his ever having 
told me anything of his relations with his family, or of his 

It is presumably to Mr. Achilles Daunt that Hearn al- 
ludes in a letter written thirty years after he had left 
Ushaw, which has been placed as a heading to this chapter. 

At this time occurred an incident that influenced the 
whole of Hearn 's subsequent life. While playing a game 
known as the ** Giant's Stride" one of his companions al- 
lowed the knotted end of the rope to slip from his hand. 
It struck Lafcadio, and in consequence of the inflammation 
supervening he lost the sight of an eye. "I am horribly 
disfigured by the loss of my left eye," he tells Mrs. Atkin- 
son, "punched out at school. They are gentle in English 
Schools, particularly in Jesuitical schools ! " He elsewhere 
mentions an operation undergone in Dublin in the hope of 
saving the eye. Of this statement we have no confirmation. 

Lafcadio seems to have been born with prominent near- 
sighted eyes. They must have been a Hearn inheritance, 



for Mrs. Atkinson's son, Carleton, has prominent myopic 
eyes, and Lafcadio's eldest son has been disqualified, by 
his near-sight, from entering the Japanese army. 

There is something intensely pathetic in Hearn's per- 
ception of the idea of beauty, and of the reality manifested 
in his own person. Something of the ghostliness in his 
present shell must have belonged, he imagined, to the van- 
ished world of beauty, must have mingled freely with the 
best of youth and grace and force, must have known the 
worth of long, lithe limbs on the course of glory, and of 
the pride of a winner in contests, and the praise of maidens, 
stately as the young sapling of a palm which Odysseus be- 
held springing by the altar in Delos. 

Little of beauty, or grace, or lithe limbs belonged to 
Paddy Hearn. He never was more than five feet three 
inches in height and was much disfigured by his injured 
eye. The idea that he was repulsive in appearance, espe- 
cially to women, always pursued him. 

Adversity sows the seed. With his extraordinary re- 
cuperative power, Lafcadio all his life made ill-luck an 
effective germinating power. 

Twenty years later, in one of his editorials in the Times 
Democrat, he alludes to the artistic value of myopia for an 
impressionist artist, declaring that the inability to see de- 
tail in a landscape makes it more mystical and impressive. 
Certainly, in imaginative work his defective sight seems, 
if one can say so, a help, rather than a drawback in the con- 
juring up of ghostly scenes and wraiths and imaginings, 
glimpses, as it were, enlarging and extending the world 
around him and insight into others far removed from ordi- 
nary comprehension or practical insight. The quality of 
double perception became at last a cultivated habit of mind. 
**I have the double sensation of being myself a ghost, and 
of being haunted — haunted by the prodigious, luminous 
spectre of the world," he says, in his essay on "Dust." 



The fact remains, however, that no pursuits requiring 
quickness and accuracy of sight were henceforth possible 
for him; the cultivation of his quite remarkable talent for 
drawing was out of the question. No doubt his sight had 
been defective from birth, but the entire loss of the sight 
of one eye intensified it to a considerable extent, and 
kept him in continual terror of complete loss of visual 

It has been stated that Lafcadio Hearn was expelled 
from Ushaw. Ecclesiastics are not prone to state their 
reasons for any line of action they may choose to take. 
No inquiries were made and no reasons were given. His 
departure is easily accounted for without any question of 
expulsion. In fact, it was a matter of necessity, for in 
consequence of the loss of the money, invested in the Moly- 
neux business, his grand-aunt was no longer able to pay 
his school fees. 

Towards the end of his residence at college he generally 
spent his holidays (or a portion of them) at Ushaw, going 
home less and less as time went on. 

Mrs. Brenane's mind, weakened by age and misfortune, 
was incapable any longer of forming a sound opinion. 
Those surrounding her persuaded her that the boy whom 
she had hitherto loved as her own son, and declared her 
heir, was a ''scapegrace and infidel, no fit inmate for a 
Christian household." Besides which, the lamentable fact 
remained that she, who only a few years before had lived 
in affluence, no longer owned a home of her own, and Laf- 
cadio was hardly likely to care to avail himself of Moly- 
neux's hospitality. 

At the time of Henry Molyneux's marriage to Miss Agnes 
Keogh, a marriage which took place a year before his 
failure in 1866, Mrs. Brenane bestowed the whole of the 
landed property her husband, Justin Brenane, had left 
her, in the form of a marriage settlement on the young 




lady. The rest of her life, therefore, was spent as a de- 
pendent in the Molyneux's house, Sweetbriars, Tramore. 

Thus did Lafcadio Hearn lose his inheritance, but if he 
had inherited it would he ever have been the artist he 
ultimately became? He was wont to say that hard knocks 
and intellectual starvation were, with him, a necessary 
stimulus to creative work, and pain of exceeding value 
betimes. ''Everybody who does me a wrong, indirectly 
does me a right, I am forced to detach myself from things 
of the world, and devote myself to things of the imagination 
and spirit.'* 

Amidst luxurious surroundings, with a liberal compe- 
tency to live upon, might he not perhaps have spent his 
life in reading or formulating vague philosophical theo- 
ries, seeking the ''unknown reality," instead of being 
driven by the pressing reality of having to support a wife 
and children? 




"In Art-study one must devote one's whole life to self-culture, and 
can only hope at last to have climbed a little higher and advanced a 
little farther than anybody else. You should feel the determination 
of those Neophytes of Egypt who were led into subterranean vaults 
and suddenly abandoned in darkness and rising water whence there 
was no escape, save by an iron ladder. 

"As the fugitive mounted through heights of darkness, each rung of 
the quivering stairway gave way immediately he had quitted it, and 
fell back into the abyss, echoing; but the least exhibition of fear or 
weariness was fatal to the climber." i 

A parIjOur-maid of Mrs. Brenane's, Catherine by name, 
who had accompanied her from Ireland when the old lady 
came over to the Molyneux's house at Redhill, had married 
a man of the name of Delaney, and had settled in London, 
near the docks, where her husband was employed as a 
labourer. To them Heam went when he left Ushaw. The 
Delaneys were in fairly comfortable circumstances, and 
Hearn's account in the letters — the only ones we have of 
his at this time — written to his school-friend, Mr. Achilles 
Daunt, of the grimness of the surroundings in which his 
lot was cast, of the nightly sounds of horror, of windows 
thrown violently open, or shattered into pieces, of shrieks 
of agony, cries of murder, and plunges in the river, are to 
be ascribed to his supersensitive and excitable imagination. 

The artist cannot always be tied down to the strict letter 
of the law. It inspires a much deeper human interest to 
picture genius struggling against overwhelming odds — 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafacadio Heam," Houghton, Mifflin & 



poverty-stricken, starving — than lazily and luxuriously 
floating down the current of life with unlimited cham- 
pagne and chicken mayonnaise on board. 

Stevenson was at this time supposed to be living like 
a *' weevil in a biscuit," when his father was only too 
anxious to give him an allowance. Jimmy Whistler, only 
a little way up the river from Hearn, at Wapping, was 
said to be living on ''cat's meat and cheese parings," when, 
if he had chosen to conform to the most elementary prin- 
ciples of business, he might have been in easy circumstances 
by the sale of his work. 

As to direct penury, and Hearn 's statement that he 
^*was obliged to take refuge in the workhouse," if accurate 
it must have been brought about by his ow^n improvident 
and intractable nature and invariable refusal to submit to 
discipline or restraint of any kind. 

Hearn ^s memories of his youth were extremely vague. 
Keferring to this period of his life later, in Japan, he tells 
a pupil that, though some of his relations were rich, none 
of them offered to pay to enable him to finish his education ; 
and though brought up in a luxurious home, surrounded 
by western civilisation, he was obliged to educate himself 
in spite of overwhelming difficulties, and in consequence of 
the neglect of his relations, partly lost his sight, spent two 
years in bed, and was forced to become a servant. 

This is a remarkable case of Celtic rebellion against the 
despotism of fact. He never was called upon to fill the 
duties of a servant until he arrived in America. He never 
could have spent two years in bed, for there are no two 
years unaccounted for, either at this time or later in Cin- 
cinnati. It would not have suited the policy of those rul- 
ing his destiny to leave him in a state of destitution. A 
certain allowance was probably sent to Catherine Delaney, 
as later in Cincinnati to Mr. Cullinane, sufficient for his 
keep and every-day expenses. 



"With a knowledge of Lafcadio's methods, we can im- 
agine that any sum given to him would probably have run 
through his fingers within the first hour — his last farthing 
spent on the purchase of a book or curio that fascinated 
him in a shop window. Thus he might find himself miles 
away from home, obliged to obtain haphazard the means of 
supplying himself with food and shelter. Absence of mind 
was characteristic of all the Hearns, and unpunctuality, 
until he was drilled and disciplined by ofiicial life in Japan, 
one of Lafcadio's conspicuous failings. We can imagine 
the practical ex-parlourmaid keeping his meals waiting, 
during the first period of his stay, and gradually, when 
she found that no dependence could be placed on his move- 
ments, taking no further heed or trouble, and paying no 
attention to his coming and going. 

At various periods during the course of his life, Hearn 
indulged in the experiment of working his brain at the 
expense of his body — sometimes to the extent of seriously 
undermining his health, and having to submit to the ne- 
cessity of knocking off work until lost ground had been 
made up. He held the opinion that the owner of pure 
** horse health" never possessed the power of discerning 
''half lights." In its separation of the spiritual from the 
physical portion of existence, severe sickness was often 
invaluable to the sufferer by the revelation it bestows of 
the psychological under-currents of human existence. 
From the intuitive recognition of the terrible, but at the 
same time glorious fact, that the highest life can only be 
reached by subordinating physical to spiritual influences, 
separating the immaterial from the material self, lies all 
the history of asceticism and self-suppression as the most 
efficacious means of developing religious and intellectual 

Fantastic were the experiments and vagaries he indulged 
in now and then, as when he tried to stay the pangs of 



hunger at Cincinnati by opium, or when, on his first ar- 
rival in Japan, he insisted on adopting a diet of rice and 
lotus roots, until he discovered that endeavouring to make 
the body but a vesture for the soul, means irritated nerves, 
weak eyesight and acute dyspepsia. 

Now, even as a lad, began Hearn's life of loneliness and 
withdrawal from communion with his fellows. Buoyed 
up by an undefined instinct that he possessed power 
of some sort, biding his time, possessing his soul in silence, 
and wrapping a cloak of reserve about his internal hopes 
and aims, he gradually turned all his thoughts into one 

Youth has a marvellous fashion of accepting injustice 
and misrepresentation, if allowed to keep its inner life 
untouched. Now he showed that strange mixture of weak- 
ness and strength, stoicism and sensibility, ignorance of 
the world, and stubborn resistance to external infiuence 
that distinguished him all through the course of his life. 
If those amongst whom his lines had hitherto been cast 
chose to cast him forth, and look upon him as a pariah, he 
would not even deign to excuse himself, or seek to be re- 
instated in their affections. 

After all, what signify the nettles and brambles by the 
wayside, when in front lies the road leading to a shining 
goal of hope, of work, of achievement? What matter a 
heavy heart and an empty stomach, when you are stuffing 
your brain to repletion with new impressions and artistic 
material ? 

Slowly and surely even now he was coming to the con- 
viction that literature was his vocation, and he began pre- 
paring himself, struggling, as he expresses it, with that 
dumbness, that imperfection of utterance, that beset the 
literary beginner, arising generally from the fact that the 
latent thought or emotion has not yet defined itself with 
sufficient sharpness. "Analyse it, make the effort of try- 



ing to understand exactly the emotion that moves ns, and 
the necessary utterance will come, until at last the emo- 
tional idea develops itself unconsciously. Analysing the 
feeling that remains dim, and making the effort of trying 
to understand exactly the emotion that moves us, prompt 
at last the necessary utterance. Every feeling is expres- 
sible. . . . You may work at a page for months before 
the idea clearly develops, the result is often surprising ; for 
our best work is often out of the unconscious. ' * 

Already in the small frail body, with, half the eyesight 
given to other men, dwelt that quality of perseverance, 
that indomitable determination which, with all Hearn's 
deviations from the straight path, with all his blunder- 
ings, guided him at last out of the perplexities and weari- 
ness of life into calm and sunlight, to the enjoyment 
of that happiness which was possible to a man of his 

''All roads lead to Rome,*' but it is well for the artist 
if he find the right one early in his career. Hearn set 
forth on his pilgrimage within hearing of the tolling of 
the bell of St. Paul's, ending it within hearing of the 
''bronze beat'' of the temple bell of Yokohama, carrying 
through all his romantic journey ings that most wonderful 
romance of all, his own genius. 

"Well, you too have had your revelations, — which means 
deep pains. One must pay a price to see and to know," 
he writes to Mrs. Atkinson, recalling these days. "Still, 
the purchase is worth making." 

Great as the deprivation must have been, not to return 
to the meadows and flowery lanes of Tramore, to the wind- 
swept bay, and the sound of the undulating tide, what a 
chance was now offered him ! A free charter of the streets 
of London. If, as he says, he had received no education 
at Ushaw, he received it here, the best of all, in these 
grimy, sordid surroundings, noting the pathos of every- 



day things, fascinated by the sight of the human stream 
pouring through the streets of the great metropolis, its cur- 
rents and counter-currents and eddyings, strengthening or 
weakening, as the tide rose or ebbed, of the city sea of toil. 
This was what gave his genius that breadth of vision and 
range of emotion which, half a century later, enabled him 
to interpret the ceremony and discipline, the sympathy or 
repulsion, the ''race ghost" of the most mysterious people 
on the face of the globe. We can see in imagination the 
odd-looking lad creeping, in his gentle, near-sighted fash- 
ion, through the vast necropolis of dead gods in the British 
Museum, where later, in an eloquent passage at the end of 
one of his essays, he pictures a Japanese Buddha, "cham- 
bered with forgotten divinities of Egypt or Babylon under 
the gloom of a pea soup fog, ' ' trembling faintly at the roar 
of London. "All to what end?" he asks indignantly. 
"To aid another Alma Tadema to paint the beauty of 
another vanished civilisation or to illustrate an English 
dictionary of Buddhism; perhaps to inspire some future 
Laureate with a metaphor startling as Tennyson's figure 
of the 'Oiled and curled Assyrian Bull'? Will they be 
preserved in vain? Each idol shaped by human faith re- 
mains the shell of truth eternally divine, and even the 
shell itself may hold a ghostly power. The soft serenity, 
the passionless tenderness of those Buddha faces might 
yet give peace of soul to a West weary of creeds, trans- 
formed into conventions, eager for the coming of another 
teacher to proclaim, ' I have the same feeling for the High 
as the Low, for the moral as the immoral, for the depraved 
as for the virtuous, for those holding sectarian views and 
false opinions as for those whose beliefs are good and 
true.' " 

We can see him sitting on the parapet of the dock wall, 
watching the white-winged ships, "swift Hermse of traffic 
— ghosts of the infinite ocean," put out to sea, some of 



them bound for those tropical lands of which he dreamed ; 
others coming in, landing sphinx-like, oblique-eyed little 
men from that country in the Far East of which he was 
one day destined to become the interpreter. 

We know of nothing that he wrote at this time, but no 
doubt many were the sheets — destroyed then and there 
as dangerous and heretical stuff — that fell into Catherine 
Delaney's hands. What she could not destroy, were the 
indelible visions and impressions, bitten deep by the aqua- 
fortis of memory on the surface of his sensitive brain. 

*'One summer evening, twenty-five years ago, in a Lon- 
don park, I heard a girl say 'good-night' to somebody 
passing by. Nothing but those two little words — 'good- 
night.' Who she was I do not know. I never even saw 
her face, and I never heard that voice again. But still, 
after the passing of one hundred seasons, the memory of 
her 'Good-night' brings a double thrill incomprehensible 
of pleasure and pain — pain and pleasure, doubtless, 
not of me, not of my own existence, but of pre-existence 
and dead suns. 

"For that which makes the charm of a voice thus heard 
but once cannot be of this life. It is of lives innumerable 
and forgotten. Certainly there never have been two voices 
having precisely the same quality. But in the utterance 
of affection there is a tenderness of timbre common to the 
myriad million voices of all humanity. Inherited memory 
makes familiar even to the newly-born the meaning of this 
tone of caress. Inherited, no doubt, likewise our knowl- 
edge of the tones of sympathy, of grief, of pity. And so 
the chant of a blind woman in this city of the Far East 
may revive in even a Western mind emotion deeper than 
individual being — vague dumb pathos of forgotten sor- 
rows, dim loving impulses of generations unremembered. 
The dead die never utterly. They sleep in the darkest 
cells of tired hearts and busy brains, to be startled at 



rarest moments only by the echo of some voices that re- 
calls their past. ' ' ^ 

It is interesting to feel the throb of the intellectual 
pulse of England in the late sixties when Lafcadio Hearn 
was wandering about the wilderness of London, absorbing 
thoughts and storing ideas for the future. 

Tennyson had done his best work. ' ' Maud ' ' and * ' Locks- 
ley Hall ' ' were in every one 's heart and on every one 's lips, 
illustrating the trend and the expression of men's thoughts. 
Walter Pater and Matthew Arnold, at Oxford, were form- 
ing the modern school of English prose; Ruskin in his 
fourth-floor room at Maida Vale, with **the lights of 
heaven for his candles," was opening the mind of middle- 
class England to a new set of art theories. The Brownings 
were in Bryanston Square, she occupied in writing ** Au- 
rora Leigh," he in completing ''Sordello." William Mor- 
ris, ' ' in dismal Queen 's Square, in black, filthy old London, 
in dull end of October, was making a wondrous happy 
poem, with four sets of lovers, called *Love is Enough.' " 
The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood were trying to lead Eng- 
lishmen out of the '^sloshy" bread-and-butter school of 
sentiment alism to what they called "truth" in subject and 
execution. The Germ was running its short and erratic 
career; Rossetti had published in its pages the ''Blessed 
Damozel," had finished "The Burden of Nineveh," and 
had begun the ' ' House of Life. ' ' Jimmy Whistler, during 
the intervals of painting "Nocturnes" at Cherry Tree Inn, 
was flying over to Paris, returning laden with " Japaneser- 
ies," exhibiting for the first time to the public, at his house 
in Chelsea, a flutter of purple fans, and kakemonos em- 
broidered at the foot of Fuji-no-yama, which, in his whim- 
sical way, he declared to be "as beautiful as the Parthenon 

Darwin had fulminated his scientific principles of nat' 
1 From "A Street Singer," "Kokoro," Messrs. Gay & Hancock. 



ural selection and evolution, fanning into a flame the con- 
flict between religious orthodoxy and natural science. 
Theologians were up in arms. To doubt a single theo- 
logical tenet, or the literal accuracy of an ancient Hebraic 
text, seemed to them to place the whole reality of re- 
ligious life and nature in question. Ten years before, 
Herbert Spencer had been introduced by Huxley to Tyn- 
dall as ^'Ein Kerl der speculirt,*' and well had he main- 
tained the character; *' Principles of Ethics" had already 
been written and he was at work at the ** Synthetic Phi- 
losophy. ^ ' 

Science, however, in those days seems to have been a 
closed book to Lafcadio. The wrangles and discussions 
over eastern legend and the creation of the world as set 
forth in Genesis never seem to have reached his mind, 
until years afterwards in New Orleans. He appears to 
have wandered rather in the byways of fiction, devouring 
any rubbish that came his way in the free libraries he 
frequented. It is surprising to think of the writer of 
** Japan, an Interpretation," having been fascinated by 
Wilkie Collins 's '' Armadale." The name ''Ozias Mid- 
winter," indeed, he used afterwards as a pseudonym for 
the series of letters contributed to the Commercial from 
New Orleans. There is a certain pathos in the appeal that 
the description of the personality and character of Mid- 
winter made to his imagination. *'What had I known of 
strangers' hands all through my childhood? I had only 
known them as hands raised to threaten. What had I 
known of other men 's voices ? I had known them as voices 
that jeered, voices that whispered against me in corners. 
. . . I beg your pardon, sir, I have been used to be 
hunted and cheated and starved." 

Lafcadio 's stay in London lasted a year ; an imagination 
such as his lives an eternity in a year. A veil of mystery 
overhangs the period intervening between this and his ar- 



rival in America which I have in vain endeavoured to 

Mr. Milton Brenner, in his preface to the * ' Letters from 
the Raven," alludes to the "travel-stained, poverty-bur- 
dened lad of nineteen, who had 'run away from a Monas- 
tery in Wales/ and who still had part of his monk's garb 
for clothing." 

In writing Hearn's biography, it is always well to re- 
member his tendency to embroider upon the drab back- 
ground of fact. Mrs. Koizumi, his widow, told us in 
Japan that when applying for an appointment, as professor 
at the Waseda University, her husband informed the offi- 
cials that he had been educated in England and Ireland, 
**also some time in France." His brother, Daniel James, 
at present a farmer at St. Louis, Michigan, says that he 
knows Lafcadio to have been for some time at college in 
France, and Mr. Joseph Tunison, his intimate friend at 
Cincinnati, states that Lafcadio, when talking of his later 
childhood and youth, referred to Ireland, England, and 
*'some time at school in France." Hitherto it has been a 
task of no difficulty to trace the inmates of Roman Cath- 
olic colleges abroad, it having been customary to keep rec- 
ords of the name of every inmate and student of each col- 
lege, but since the breaking up of the religious houses in 
France, many of these records have been lost or destroyed. 

Strong internal evidence, which it is unnecessary to 
quote here, leads to the conclusion that he was delivered, 
as a scapegrace and good-for-nothing, into the charge of 
the ecclesiastics at the Roman Catholic institution of the 
Petits Precepteurs at Yvetot, near Rouen. Finding their 
methods of calling sinners to repentance unendurable, he 
took the key of the fields, and made a bolt of it. If, as we 
imagine, he went to Paris, he most certainly did not reveal 
himself to his Uncle Richard, who was living there at the 



Though henceforward the ecclesiastical element, as an 
active factor, disappeared out of Hearn's life, he seems to 
have been pursued by a sort of half-insane fear of the 
possibility of Jesuitical revenge. The church, he declared, 
was inexorable and cruel; he preferred, therefore, not to 
place himself within the domain of her sway, holding aloof, 
as far as possible, from Roman Catholic circles in New 
Orleans, and renouncing the idea of a visit to the Spanish 
island of Manila. 

It is easy to imagine the intellectual eagerness and curi- 
osity — appanage of his artistic nature — ^with which Hearn 
must have entered Paris. Paris, where, as he says, * * talent 
is mediocrity; art, a frenzied endeavour to express the In- 
expressible; human endeavour, a spasmodic straining to 
clutch the Unattainable." 

A few weeks would have sufficed to enable him to col- 
lect vital memories — memories to be used so often after- 
wards in his literary work. 

It was the period just before the outbreak of the Franco- 
Prussian war, when Paris, under the Empire, had reached 
her zenith of talent and luxury. A strange mixture of 
frivolity and earnestness characterised the world of art. 
Theophile Gautier was writing his ''Mdlle. de Maupin," 
while Victor Hugo was thundering forth his arraignment 
of Napoleon Buonaparte, and writing epics to Liberty. 
Hearn tells of French artists who made what they called 
"coffee pictures" by emptying the dregs of their coffee 
upon a sheet of soft paper after dinner at the Chat Noir, 
and by the suggestions of the shapes of the stains pictures 
were inspired and developed, according to the artistic ca- 
pacity of the painter. Meanwhile, in his humble home in 
Brittany, Francois Millet, in poverty and solitude, was liv- 
ing face to face with Nature and producing **The Sowers" 
and *'The Angelus." 

Yet, even amongst the most dissipated members of this 



Parisian world of Bohemia, one principle was established 
and followed, and this principle it was that made it so 
invaluable a school for a nature such as Hearn's. Never 
was the artistic vocation to be abandoned for any other, 
however lucrative, not even when art remained blind and 
deaf to her worshippers. However forlorn the hope of 
ultimate success, it was the artist's duty to offer up burnt 
sacrifices on the altar of the divinity. 

It is not to be wondered at that the boy was infected 
by the theory that ruled supreme of "art for art's sake." 
Art, not for the sake of the moral it might preach or the 
call on higher spiritual sentiments but for itself. This 
axiom it was that permeated the sinister perfection of 
Baudelaire, the verbal beauty of Flaubert, and the pictur- 
esqueness of Gautier. For a young craftsman still strug- 
gling with the manipulation of his material the ''Impres- 
sionist school," as it was called, presented exceptional 
fascinations ; and no doubt in that very slender outfit, 
which he tells us he carried in the emigrant train between 
New York and Cincinnati, some volumes of these French 
romantics were packed away. He could hardly have ob- 
tained them in the America of that day. The shelves of 
the Cincinnati Free Library might hold Henry James's 
''Essays" in praise of the modem French literary school, 
but the circulation of the originals would certainly not 
have been countenanced by the directors. 

It is not impossible that, when in Paris, Lafcadio came 
across Robert Louis Stevenson. The year that he was born 
in the Ionian Islands, Stevenson was born amidst the fogs 
and mists of Edinburgh. He was the same age, there- 
fore, as the little Irishman, and was in Paris at about the 
same time. Whistler, "the Laird" and Du Maurier were 
both also frequenting the Quartier, the latter collecting 
those impressions which he afterwards recounted in 
** Trilby" — "Trilby" of which Lafcadio writes later with 



the delight and appreciation of things experienced and 

In 1869 Lafcadio Hearn received a sum of money from 
those in Ireland who had taken the control of his life into 
their hands, and he was directed to leave Europe for Cin- 
cinnati in the United States of America. There he was 
consigned to the care of Mr. CuUinane, Henry Molyneux's 

It was characteristic that Hearn apparently did not 
attempt to propitiate or approach his grand-aunt, Mrs. 
Brenane, though he must have well known that by not do- 
ing so he forfeited all chance of any inheritance she might 
still have left to bestow upon him. 





"... I think there was one mistake in the story of (Edipus 

and the Sphinx. It was the sweeping statement about the Sphinx's 
alternative. It isn't true that she devoured every one who couldn't 
answer her riddles. Everybody meets the Sphinx in life; — so I can 
speak from authority. She doesn't kill people like me, — she only 
bites and scratches them; and I've got the marks of her teeth in a 
number of places on my soul. She meets me every few years and 
asks the same tiresome question, — and I have latterly contented my- 
self with simply telling her, *I don't know.' " i ^^ 

In a letter to his sister, written from Kumamoto, in 
Japan, years later, Hearn tells her that he found his way 
to the office of an old English printer, named Watkin, 
some months after his arrival in Cincinnati. ''I asked 
him to help me. He took a fancy to me, and said, * You do 
not know anything; but I will teach you. You can sleep 
in my office. I cannot pay you, because you are of no use 
to me, except as a companion, but I can feed you.* He 
made me a paper-bed (paper-shavings from the book-trim- 
ming department) ; it was nice and warm. I did errand 
boy in the intervals of tidying the papers, sweeping the 
floor of the shop, and sharing Mr. Watkin 's frugal meals. ' * 

In Henry Watkin 's Reminiscences the purport is given 
of the conversation that passed between the future author 
of ''Kokoro'' and himself at his shop in the city of Cin- 
cinnati, when Hearn first found his way there in the year 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn,'* Houghton, Mifflin 
& Co. 



'*Well, 3^oung man, what ambition do you nourish?'' 

*'To write, sir." 

*' Mercy on us. Learn something that will put bread in 
your mouth first, try your hand at writing later on." 

Henry Watkin was a person apparently of elastic views 
and varied reading; self-educated, but shrewd and gifted 
with a natural knowledge of mankind. He w^as nearly 
thirty years older than the boy he spoke to, but he remem- 
bered the days when his ideal of life had been far other 
than working a printing-press in a back street in Cincin- 
nati. At one time he had steeped himself in the French 
school of philosophy, Fourierism and St. Simonism; then 
for a time followed Hegel and Kant, regaling himself in 
lighter moments with Edgar Allan Poe and Hoffmann's 
weird tales. 

The lad who had come to solicit his aid was undersized, 
extremely near-sighted — one of his eyes, in consequence 
of the accident that had befallen him at Ushaw, was prom- 
inent and white — he was intensely shy, and had a certain 
caution and stealthiness of movement that in itself was 
apt to influence people against him. But the intellectual 
brow, a something dignified and reserved in voice and 
manner, an intangible air of breeding, arrested Mr. Wat- 
kin's attention. As Hearn somewhere says, hearts are the 
supreme mysteries in life, people meet, touch each other's 
inner being with a shock and a feeling as if they had seen 
a ghost. This strange waif, who had drifted to the door 
of his printing-office, touched Henry Watkin 's sympathetic 
nature; he discerned at once, behind the unprepossessing 
exterior, a specific individuality, and conceived an imme- 
diate affection for the boy. 

Many were the shifts that Lafcadio had been put to 
from the time he left France until he cast anchor in the 
haven of Mr. Watkin 's printing-shop in a retired back 
street in the city of Cincinnati. 



Filling up the gaps in his own recital, we can see the 
sequence of events that invariably distinguished Hearn's 
progress through life. In his improvident manner he had 
apparently squandered the money that had been contri- 
buted by Mrs. Brenane for his journey, and thus found 
himself in considerable difficulties. 

Amongst the papers found after his death was a sketch, 
inspired, he tells Professor Yrjo Hirn, writing from 
Tokyo in January, 1902, by the names of the Scandinavian 
publishers, Wahlstrom and Weilstrand. It is sufficiently 
reminiscent of Stevenson to make one think that the read- 
ing of ''Across the Plains," rather than the names of 
Scandinavian publishers, was responsible for its inception. 
It relates very much the same experiences as Stevenson's 
on his journey from New York to Chicago in an American 
emigrant train. Absolutely destitute of money and food, 
he must have presented a forlorn appearance. Moved to 
pity, a Norwegian peasant girl, seated opposite him in the 
car, offered him a slice of brown bread and yellow cheese. 
Thirty-five years later he recalled the vision of this kind- 
hearted girl, no doubt endowing her memory with a beauty 
and charm that never were hers — and under the title of 
*'My First Romance" left it for publication amongst his 

After his arrival in Cincinnati the lad seems very 
nearly to have touched the confines of despair; and for 
some months lived a life of misery such as seems incred- 
ible for a person of intellect and refinement in a civilised 
city. Sometimes when quite at the end of his tether he 
had, it appears, to sleep in dry-goods boxes in grocers' 
sheds, even to seek shelter in a disused boiler in a vacant 

**My dear little sister," he writes years afterwards to 
Mrs. Atkinson, when recounting his adventures at this 
period, *'has been very, very lucky, she has not seen the 



wolf's side of life, the ravening side, the apish side; the 
ugly facets of the monkey puzzle. 

*'I found myself dropped into the enormous machinery 
of life I knew nothing about, friends tried to get me work 
after I had been turned out of my first boarding-house 
through inability to pay. I lost father's photograph at 
that time by seizure of all my earthly possessions. I had 
to sleep for nights in the street, for which the police 
scolded me; then I found refuge in a mews, where some 
English coachmen allowed me to sleep in a hay-loft at 
night, and fed me by stealth with victuals stolen from the 
house. ' ' 

This incident Mrs. Wetmore, in her biography of Hearn, 
refers to as having taken place during his stay in London. 
His letter to his sister and his use of the word ''dollars" 
in estimating the value of the horses, unmistakably con- 
nects the scene of it with the United States, where 
at that time it was the custom to employ English stable- 

His sketch, written years after, recalling this night in 
a hay-loft, delightfully simple and suggestive, tells of the 
delights of his hay-bed, the first bed of any sort for many 
a long month! The pleasure of the sense of rest! whilst 
overhead the stars were shining in the frosty air. Be- 
neath, he could hear the horses stirring heavily, and he 
thought of the sense of force and life that issued from 
them. They were of use in the world, but of what use 
was he? . ... And the sharp shining stars, they were 
suns, enormous suns, inhabited perhaps by creatures like 
horses, with small things like rats and mice hiding in the 
hay. The horses did not know that there were a hundred 
million of suns, yet they were superior beings worth a 
great deal of money, much more than he was, yet he knew 
that there were hundreds of millions of suns and they did 



**I endeavoured later," he tells Mrs. Atkinson, *'to go 
as accountant in a business office, but it was soon found 
that I was incapable of filling the situation, defective in 
mathematical capacity, and even in ordinary calculation 
power. I was entered into a Telegraph Office as Telegraph 
Messenger Boy, but I was nineteen and the other boys were 
young ; I looked ridiculously out of place and was laughed 
at. I was touchy — went off without asking for my wages. 
Enraged friends refused to do anything further for me. 
Boarding-houses warned me out of doors. At last I be- 
came a Boarding-house servant, lighted fires, shovelled 
coals, etc., in exchange for food and privilege of sleeping 
on the floor of the smoking-room. I worked thus for about 
one and a half years, finding time to read and write stories. 
The stories were published in cheap Weekly Papers, long 
extinct; but I was never paid for them. I tried other oc- 
cupations also — canvassing, show-card writing, etc. These 
brought enough to buy smoking tobacco and second-hand 
clothes — nothing more. ' ' 

It is typical of Hearn that, though driven to such straits, 
he never applied to Mr. Cullinane, to whose charge he had 
been committed. We are not surprised that the little room 
at the back of Mr. Watkin's shop, with the bed of paper 
shavings, and Mr. Watkin's frugal meals, yes, even 
sleeping in dry-goods boxes in a grocer's shed, or the 
shelter of a disused boiler in a vacant *'lot," was prefer- 
able to the acceptance of money sent through the inter- 
vention of Henry Molyneux to Henry Molyneux's brother- 

In his book, *' Concerning Lafcadio Hearn," ^ Dr. George 
Milbury Gould alludes to this gentleman in the following 
terms : — 

*' There is still living, an Irishman, to whom Lafcadio 
was sent from Ireland, and in whose care, at least to a lim- 

1 Messrs. Fisher Unwin. 



ited extent, the boy was placed. He was living in Cincin- 
nati, Ohio, in 1870." 

"He was not sure," says Gould in his account of an 
interview with Mr. Cullinane, "whether Mrs. Brenane was 
really Hearn 's grand-aunt ; the fact is, he declared that he 
knew nothing, and no one knew anything true of Hearn 's 
life. Asked why the lad was shipped to him, he replied, 
*I do not know — I do not even know whether he was re- 
lated to my brother-in-law, Molyneux, or not. ' ' ' 

From these statements Gould infers that the boy couldn 't 
stop in any school to which he was sent, that he was ap- 
parently an unwelcome charge upon his father's Irish re- 
lations. Every one, indeed, who had anything to do with 
him made haste to rid themselves of the obligation. 

The friendship with Mr. Watkin, the old English printer, 
was destined to last for the term of Hearn 's life. 

Many of Hearn 's friends in America have insinuated 
that Mr. Watkin exaggerated the strength of the tie that 
bound him to Lafcadio Hearn; but Hearn 's letters to his 
sister bear out all the statements made in the iutroduction 
to the volume entitled "Letters from the Raven." Even 
when Hearn succeeded in obtaining occupation elsewhere, 
he would return to Mr. "Watkin 's office during leisure 
hours, either for a talk with his friend, or, if Mr. Watkin 
was out, for a desultory reading of the books in the "li- 
brary," the appellation by which the two or three shelves 
containing Mr. Watkin 's heterogeneous collection was dig- 
nified. He was of no use in Mr. Watkin 's business owing 
to defective eyesight, but when he returned after his day's 
work elsewhere, literary, political and religious subjects 
were discussed and quarrelled over. 

As was now and afterwards his custom with his friends, 
in spite of daily intercourse, Hearn kept up a frequent 
correspondence with Mr. Watkin. This correspondence has 
been edited and published by Mr. Milton Bronner under 



the title of ''Letters from the Raven." Edgar Allan Poe 
had died in 1849, but the influence of his weird and strange 
genius was still pre-eminent in America. Early in their 
acquaintance Hearn established the habit of addressing 
Mr. Watkin as "Old Man" or ''Dad," while on the other 
hand the boy, in consequence of his sallow complexion, 
black hair, and admiration for Poe's works, was known as 
the ' ' Raven. ' ' During the long years of their correspond- 
ence, a drawing of a raven was generally placed in lieu 
of signature when Lafcadio wrote to Mr. Watkin. Many 
of these pen-and-ink sketches interspersed with other illus- 
trations here and there through the letters show considera- 
ble talent for drawing, of a fantastic sort, that might have 
been developed, had Hearn 's eyesight permitted, and had 
he not nourished other ambitions. 

Some of the letters are simply short statements left on 
the table for Mr. Watkin 's perusal when he returned home, 
or a few lines of nonsense scribbled on a bit of paper and 
pinned on a door of the office. 

Often when Hearn was offended by some observation, 
or a reprimand administered by the older man, he would 
*'run away in a huff." Mr. Watkin, who was genuinely 
attached to the erratic little genius and understood how to 
deal with him, would simply follow him, tell him not to be 
a fool, and bring him back again. 

In the fourth autobiographical fragment, found amongst 
Hearn 's papers after his death, is one entitled "Intuition." 
He there alludes to Watkin as "the one countryman he 
knew in Cincinnati — a man who had preceded him into 
exile by nearly forty years." 

In a glass case at the entrance to a photographer's shop, 
Hearn had come across the photograph of a face, the first 
sight of which had left him breathless with wonder and 
delight. . . . The gaze of the large dark eyes, the ac- 
quiline curv^e of the nose, the mouth firm but fine — made 



him think of a falcon, in spite of the delicacy of the face. 
. . . He stood looking at it, and the more he looked, 
the more the splendid wonder of it seemed to grow like a 
fascination. But who was she? He dared not ask the 
owner of the gallery. To his old friend Watkin, therefore, 
he went and at once proposed a visit to the photographer's. 
The picture was as much a puzzle to him as to Hearn. 

For long years the incident of the photograph passed 
from Hearn 's memory until, in a Southern city hundreds 
of miles away, he suddenly perceived, in a glass case in a 
druggist's shop, the same photograph. 

*' Please tell me whose face that is," he asked. 

**Is it possible you do not know?" responded the drug- 
gist. ** Surely you are joking?" 

Hearn answered in the negative. Then the man told 
him — it was that of the great tragedienne, Rachel. 

Cincinnati is separated from Kentucky by the Ohio. 
It is there but a narrow river, and the Cincinnati folk 
were wont to migrate into Kentucky when there were lec- 
tures on spiritualism, revivalist meetings, or political ha- 
ranguings going on. Hearn and his old *'Dad" used often 
to make the journey when the day's work was done. 

Hearn was ever fascinated by strange and unorthodox 
methods of thought. We can imagine him poriug over 
Fourier's *' Harmonic Universelle " as well as the strange 
theories set forth in esoteric Buddhism with its astral 
visions and silent voices, even accepting the materialisation 
of tea-cups and portraits and the transportation of ma- 
terial objects through space. 

These were not the only expeditions they made together. 
When, later, Hearn was on the staff of the Enquirer as 
night reporter, his ''Dad" often accompanied him on his 
night prowls along the ** levee," as the water edge is called 
on the river towns of the Mississippi valley. 



At the time of Hearn's death in 1904 a member of the 
Enquirer staff visited Mr. Henry Watkin, who was then 
living in the ''Old Men's Home" (he died a few months 
ago), a well-known institution in Cincinnati w^here busi- 
ness people of small means spend their declining years. 
An account of this visit was printed in the newspaper on 
October 2nd. The writer described the old bureau in Wat- 
kin's room with its many pigeon-holes, holding gems more 
dear to the old man than all *'the jewels of Tual" — the 
letters of Lafcadio Hearn. To it the old gentleman tot- 
tered when the reporter asked for a glimpse of the precious 
writings, and as he balanced two packages, yellow with 
age, in his hand, he told, in a voice heavy with emotion, 
how he first met Hearn accidentally, and how their friend- 
ship ripened day after day and grew into full fruition with 
the years. 

'*! always called him *The Raven,' " said Watkin, ''be- 
cause his gloomy views, his morbid thoughts and his love 
for the weird and uncanny reminded me of Poe at his 
best — or worst, as you might call it; only, in my opinion, 
Hearn's was the greater mind. Sometimes he came to my 
place when I was out and then he left a card with the pic- 
ture of a raven varied according to his whim, and I could 
tell from it the humour he was in when he sketched it. ' ' 

Mr. Watkin was then eighty-six years of age, and de- 
pendence can hardly be placed on his memories of nearly 
fifty years before. One of his statements, that Hearn had 
come, in company with a Mr. McDermott, to see him 
twenty-four hours after he had been in Cincinnati, cannot 
be quite accurate, because of Hearn 's own account to his sis- 
ter of having spent nights in the streets of Cincinnati, of 
his various adventures after his arrival, of his having 
worked as type-setter and proof-reader for the Robert 
Clarke Co., before seeking emplo^nnent at Mr. Watkin 's 



It was while he was sleeping on the bed of paper shav- 
ings behind Mr. "Watkin's shop that he acted as private 
secretary to Thomas Vickers, librarian in the public library 
at Cincinnati. He mentions Thomas Vickers at various 
times in his letters to Krehbiel, and refers to rare books 
on music and copies of classical works to be found at the 

During all this period, wandering from place to place, 
endeavouring to find employment of any kind, the boy's 
underlying ambition was to obtain a position on the staff 
of one of the large daily newspapers, and thus work his 
way to a competency that would enable him to devote him- 
self to literary work of his own. 

*'I believe he would have signed his soul away to the 
devil," one of his colleagues says, *'to get on terms of 
recognition with either Colonel John Cockerill, then man- 
aging editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, or Mr. Henderson, 
the city editor of the Commercial." Though Hearn may 
not have signed his soul to the devil, he certainly sold his 
genius to ignoble uses when he wrote his well-known descrip- 
tion of the tan-yard murder. His ambition however 
was gratified. A reporter who could thus cater to the 
public greed for horrors was an asset to the Cincinnati 

We have an account, given by John Cockerill, twenty 
years later, of Hearn 's first visit to the Enquirer: — 

' * One day there came to the office a quaint, dark-skinned 
little fellow, strangely diffident, wearing glasses of great 
magnifying power and bearing with him evidence that 
Fortune and he were scarce on nodding terms. 

**When admitted, in a soft, shrinking voice he asked if 
I ever paid for outside contributions. I informed him that 
I was somewhat restricted in the matter of expenditures, 
but that I would give consideration to what he had to 
offer. He drew from under his coat a manuscript, and 



tremblingly laid it upon my table. Then he stole away 
like a distorted brownie, leaving behind him an impression 
that was uncanny and indescribable. 

** Later in the day I looked over the contribution which 
he had left. I was astonished to find it charmingly writ- 
ten. . . . 

^'From that time forward he sat in the corner of my 
room and wrote special articles for the Sunday Edition 
as thoroughly excellent as anything that appeared in the 
magazines of those days. I have known him to have twelve 
and fifteen columns of this matter in a single issue of the 
paper. He was delighted to work, and I was pleased to 
have his work, for his style was beautiful and the tone 
he imparted to the newspaper was considerable. Hour 
after hour he would sit at his table, his prominent eyes 
resting as close to the paper as his nose would permit, 
scratching away with beaver-like diligence and giving me 
no more annoyance than a bronze ornament. His eyes 
troubled him greatly in those days, one was bulbous, and 
protruded farther than the other. He was as sensitive as 
a flower. An unkind word from anybody was as serious to 
him as a cut from a whiplash, but I do not believe he was 
in any sense resentful. . . . He was poetic, and his 
whole nature seemed attuned to the beautiful, and he wrote 
beautifully of things which were neither wholesome nor 
inspiring. He came to be in time a member of the city 
staff at a fair compensation, and it was then that his 
descriptive powers developed. He loved to write of 
things in humble life. He prowled about the dark cor- 
ners of the city, and from gruesome places he dug out 
charming idyllic stories. The negro stevedores on the 
steamboat-landings fascinated him. He wrote of their 
songs, their imitations, their uncouth ways, and he 
found picturesqueness in their rags, poetry in their juba 



A joumaliistic feat still remembered in Cincinnati for its 
daring was Hearn's ascent of the spire of the cathedral on 
the back of a famous steeplejack, for the purpose of writing 
an account of the view of the city from that exalted posi- 

Mr. Edmund Henderson gives an account of the ac- 
complishment of the performance. Hearn was told of the 
peril of the thing but he would not listen. Despite his 
physique he was as courageous as a lion, and there was 
no assignment of peril that he would not bid for avidly. 
** Before the climb began the editor handed him a field 
glass with the suggestion that he might find it useful. 
Hearn, however, quietly handed it back with the remark 
* perhaps I had better not take it ; something might happen.' 
Amidst the cheers of the crowd beneath the foolhardy pair 
accomplished their climb. Hearn came back to the office 
and wrote two columns describing his sensations, and the 
wonders of the view he had obtained from the steeple top, 
though he was so near-sighted he could not have seen five 
feet beyond the tip of his nose.'' 

Henceforth Hearn accepted the ** night stations" on the 
staff of the paper. Amongst the policemen of Cincin- 
nati, who accompanied him in his wanderings, he was a 
prime favourite, known as '*0 'Hearn" both to them and to 
his fellow-reporters. 

After hours of exposure, weary and hungry, he might 
be seen sitting in the deserted newspaper office until the 
small hours of the morning, under a miserable gas-jet burn- 
ing like a '^mere tooth of flame in its wire muzzle," his nose 
close to paper and book, working at translations from Theo- 
phile Gautier, Gustave Flaubert, and Baudelaire. 

Being a meridional, he said, he felt rather with the 
Latin race than the Anglo-Saxon, and he hoped with time 
and study to be able to create something different from the 
stone-grey and somewhat chilly style of the latter-day 



English and American romance. Although later he modi- 
fied considerably his opinion with regard to the moral ten- 
dency of their art, he ever retained the same admiration for 
the artistic completeness and finish of the French Impres- 
sionist School; their instinct for the right phrase, their 
deftness in setting it precisely in the right position, the 
strength that came from reserve, and the ease due to 
vividly-realised themes and objects, all these elements com- 
bined conferred a particular charm on their method of ex- 
pression to a stylist of Heam's quality. 

Not being able to find a publisher for Gautier's *' Ava- 
tar/' his first translation from the French, he subjected 
it **to the holy purification of fire." He next attempted 
a portion of some of Gautier's tales, included under the 
title of ''One of Cleopatra's Nights"; then he undertook 
the arduous task of translating Flaubert's *'La Tentation 
de Saint Antoine." "It is astonishing what system will 
accomplish. If a man cannot spare an hour a day he can 
certainly spare a half -hour. I translated ''La Tentation" 
by this method, never allowing a day to pass without trans- 
lating a page or two. The work is audacious in parts ; but 
I think nothing ought to be suppressed." 

As well attempt, however, to gain a hearing for a free- 
thinking speech at Exeter Hall as to obtain readers for 
Gautier's or Flaubert's productions amidst a society nour- 
ished on Emerson, Longfellow, and Thoreau! Unorthodox 
in religious opinion some of the American prophets and 
poets might be, but rigid and narrow as a company of Pur- 
itans in the matter of social morality. 

When we know that about this time Bret Harte's "Luck 
of Roaring Camp" was refused admittance to the pages 
of a San Francisco magazine as likely to shock the senti- 
ments of its readers and injure the circulation of the peri- 
odical in consequence of the morals of the mother of the 
Luck, we are not surprised that Hearn's attempt to in- 



troduce the American public to the masterpieces of the 
French Impressionist School was foredoomed to failure. 
There is a certain naive, determined defiance of conven- 
tion in his insistence on gaining admiration both from 
his friends and the public for productions that w^ere really 
quite unsuited to general circulation at that time in Amer- 
ica. We find him, for instance, recommending the pe- 
rusal of *'Mdlle. de Maupin" to a clergyman of the Estab- 
lished Church and sending a copy of Gautier's poems to 
Miss Bisland in New Orleans. 

**I shall stick," he says, *'to my pedestal of faith in lit- 
erary possibilities like an Egyptian Colossus with a broken 
nose, seated solemnly in the gloom of my own originality, 
seeking no reward save the satisfaction of creating some- 
thing beautiful ; but this is worth working for. ' ' 

It is a noteworthy fact and one that may be mentioned 
here that, in sTpite of his extraordinary mastery of the sub- 
tleties of the French language, he always spoke French with 
an atrociously bad accent. ''He had a very bad ear," his 
friend, Henry Krehbiel, tells us in his article on *'Hearn 
and Folk Music," "organically incapable of humming the 
simplest tune ; he could not even sing the scale, a thing that 
most people do naturally. ' * 

From these Cincinnati days dates Hearn's hatred of the 
drudgery of journalism, *'a really nefarious trade," he 
declared later ; " it dwarfs, stifles and emasculates thought 
and style. . . . The journalist of to-day is obliged to 
hold himself in readiness to serve any cause. ... If 
he can enrich himself quickly and acquire comparative in- 
dependence, then, indeed, he is able to utter his heart's 
sentiments and indulge his tastes. ..." 

Amongst his colleagues on the staff of the Enquirer 
Hearn was not popular. He was looked upon as what 
Eton boys call a ''sap"; his fussiness about punctuation 
and style soon earned for him the sobriquet of ''Old Semi- 



Colon.'' This meticulous precision on the subject of punc- 
tuation and the value of words remained a passion with 
him all his life. He used to declare he felt about it as a 
painter would feel about the painting of his picture. He 
told his friend, Tunison, that the word "gray" if spelt 
**grey" gave him quite a different colour sensation. 

We remember his delightful outburst in a letter to 
Chamberlain, that has been so often quoted. *'For me 
words have colour, form, character: they have faces, ports, 
manners, gesticulations; — they have moods, humours, ec- 
centricities: — they have tints, tones, personalities," etc., 

Though Hearn did not get on with others of the news- 
paper staff, he formed ties of intimacy with several choice 
spirits then moving in the best literary circles of Cincinnati 
and now well known in the literary life of the United 

Henry Krehbiel, recognised in England and America as 
an eminent music lecturer and critic, was one of his most 
intimate friends. Joseph Tunison was another; he after- 
wards became editor of the Dayton Journal, and, as well 
as Krehbiel, wrote sympathetically of the little Irishman 
after his death, expressing indignation at the scurrilous 
attacks made upon his reputation by several papers in the 
United States. "He was a wonderfully attractive person- 
ality, full of quaint learning, and a certain unworldly 
wisdom. He had a fashion of dropping his friends one 
by one; or of letting them drop him, which comes to the 
same thing; whether indifference or suspicion was at the 
bottom of this habit it would be hard to say. But he never 
spoke ill of them afterwards. It was not his way to toll 
much about himself ; and what he did say was let out as if 
by accident in the course of conversation on other topics. 
. . . It was impossible to be long in his company with- 
out learning that his early years had been years of bitter- 



ness. His reminiscences of childhood included not only 
his dark-haired, dark-eyed mother, but also a beautiful 
blonde lady, who had somehow turned his happiness to 




"Now for jet black, the smooth, velvety, black skin that remains 
cold as a lizard under the tropical sun. It seems to me extremely 
beautiful ! If it is beautiful in art, why should it not be beautiful in 
nature? As a matter of fact, it is, and has been so acknowledged, 
even by the most prejudiced slave-owning races. Either Stanley, 
or Livingstone perhaps, told the world that after long living in 
Africa, the sight of white faces produced something like fear (and 
the evil spirits of Africa are white). . . . You remember the 
Romans lost their first battles with the North through sheer fear 
. . . the fairer, the weirder . . . the more terrible. Beauty 
there is in the North, of its kind. But it is not, surely, comparable 
with the wonderful beauty of colour in other races." i 

As to Hearn's more intimate life at this time there are 
many contradictory accounts. Published facts and the no- 
toriety of legal proceedings, however, are stubborn things, 
and generally manage to work their way through any 
deposit of inaccurate scandal or imaginative rumour. At 
all hazards the truth must be set forth ; otherwise how em- 
phasise the redemption of this hapless genius by discipline 
and self-control out of the depths into which at this time 
he fell? 

The episode in Hearn's life in Cincinnati, with the col- 
oured woman, ''Althea Foley," remains one of those ob- 
scure psychological mysteries, which, however distasteful, 
has to be accepted as a component part of his unbalanced 
mental equipment. 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Heam," Messrs. Houghton, 
Mifflin & Co. 



On sifting all available evidence, there is no doubt that 
while doing reporter's work for the Enquirer he fell under 
the "Shadow of the Ethiopian." 

In treating of Hearn's vagaries it is well to remember 
that his brain was abnormal by inheritance, and at this 
time was still further thrown off its balance by privation, 
injustice, and unhappiness. All through the course of his 
life there was failure of straight vision and mental vigour 
when he was going through a period of difficulty and strug- 

*'He may have been a genius in his line,'' his brother 
writes to Mrs. Atkinson, referring to Lafcadio, *'but genius 
is akin to madness, and I do really think that dark, pas- 
sionate Greek mother's blood had a taint in it. For me, 
instead of nobler aspirations and thoughts, it begat ex- 
tremes of hate and love — a shrinking and sensitive morbid 
nature. Whatever of the man I have in me comes from 
our common father. If I had been as you were, a child of 
father's second wife, I could have told a different story 
of my life. ... It was the Eastern taint in the blood 
that took Lafcadio to Japan and kept him there. His 
low vitality and lack of nerve force hampered him in the 
battle of life, as it has me. If we had the good old Celtic 
and Saxon blood in us, it would have been better for those 
dependent on us." 

The girl was servant in the cheap boarding-house where 
he lodged. Hearn, then a struggling almost destitute news- 
paper writer, used to return from work in the dead of win- 
ter in the small hours of the morning. She was a hand- 
some, kind-hearted mulatto girl, who kept his meals warm 
and allowed him to sit by her fire when wet and chilled. 
There was much in the circumstances surrounding her to 
set alight that spark of pity and compassion, one of Hearn's 
notable qualities. Born a slave near Marysville, Kentucky, 
about sixty miles from Cincinnati, in 1863 President Lin- 



coin's Proclamation gave her her freedom, and she drifted 
into the city, a waif, like Hearn himself. 

In consequence of hard work and exposure he fell seri- 
ously ill. She saved him almost from death, and while 
nursing him back to health they talked much of her early 
days and years of slavery. 

His quixotic idea of legalising his connection with her 
surprised no one so much as the girl herself. It com- 
pletely turned her head ; she gave herself airs, became over- 
bearing and quarrelsome, and Hearn found himself 
obliged to leave Cincinnati to escape from an impossible 

After his death the woman made a claim upon his estate, 
and tried to assert her right in the American courts to 
the royalties on his books. The Enquirer had articles 
running through several issues in 1906 on the claim 
of Althea Foley, "who sued to secure Hearn 's estate 
after his death." The courts decided against her on 
the ground that the laws of Ohio, in which state they both 
resided, did not recognise marriage between races. But, 
the court added, "there was no doubt he had gone 
through the ceremony of marriage with the woman 
Althea Foley, a mulatto, or, as she preferred to call herself, 
a Creole." 

It made Hearn very indigant, later, when some one 
criticising his work called him a "decadent." Certainly 
at this time in Cincinnati it would have been impossible to 
defend him from the charge. The school of French writers 
who have been dubbed "decadents" and who exercised so 
great an influence on him were infected with a strange par- 
tiality for alien races and coloured women. Exotic odd- 
ness and strangeness, primitive impulses, as displayed in 
the quest of strange tongues and admiration of strange 
people, were a vital part of the impressionist creed, con- 
stituted, indeed, one of the most displeasing manifestations 



of their unwholesome opinions and fancies. Baudelaire 
boldly declared his preference for the women of black races. 
Most of Pierre Loti's earlier novels were but the histories 
of love ajffairs with women of *' dusky races," either Eastern 
or Polynesian. 

Heam, as we have said before, was an exemplification 
of the theory of heredity. The fancy for mulattos, Creoles 
and orientals, which he displayed all his life, is most likely 
to be accounted for as an inheritance from his Arabian and 
oriental ancestors on his mother's side. He but took up 
the dropped threads of his barbaric ancestry. 

All his life he preferred to mix in the outer confines of 
society; the '* levee" at Cincinnati; the lower Creoles and 
mixed races at New Orleans; fishermen, gardeners, peas- 
ants, were chosen by preference as companions in Japan. 
He railed against civilisation. **The so-called improve- 
ments in civilisation have apparently resulted in making 
it impossible to see, hear, or find anything out. You are 
improving yourself out of the natural world. I want to 
get back amongst the monkeys and the parrots, under a 
violet sky, among green peaks, and an eternally lilac and 
luke-warm sea — where clothing is superfluous and reading 
too much of an exertion. . . . Civilisation is a hideous 
thing. Blessed is savagery! Surely a palm two hundred 
feet high is a finer thing in the natural order than seventy 
times seven New Yorks. ' ' ^ 

Hearn was a born rebel, and every incident of his life 
hitherto had goaded him into further rebellion against all 
constituted authority. That a race should be trampled 
upon by one regarding itself as superior was a state of 
things that he could not contemplate without a protest, 
and by his action he protested in the most emphatic manner 
possible. He never took into consideration whether it was 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn," Houghton, MiflBin 
& Co. 



wise to do so or not. Later, when the turbulent spirit of 
youth had settled down to accept the discipline of social 
laws and conventions, he took a very different view of the 
racial question in the United States and confessed the 
want of comprehension he had displayed on the subject. 
Writing years afterwards to a pupil in Japan, he alludes 
to the unfortunate incident in Cincinnati. He resolved 
to take the part of some people who were looked down upon 
in the place where he lived. He thought that those who 
looked down upon them were morally wrong, so he went 
over to their side. Then the rest of the people stopped 
speaking to him, and he hated them. But he was then 
too young to understand. The trouble was really caused 
by moral questions far larger than those he had been 
arguing about. 

Heam was certainly correct in thinking that, from the 
point of view of the people amongst whom he was living, 
an attempt to legalise a union with a coloured woman was 
an unpardonable lapse from social law. Not only then, 
but for years afterwards, public opinion was strongly in- 
fluenced against him in consequence of this lamentable in- 
cident. Even at the time of his death, in 1904, a perfect 
host of statements and distorted legends exaggerating all 
his lapses from conventional standards were raked up. 
Amongst other accusations, they declared that when in 
New Orleans he was the favoured admirer of Marie Levaux, 
known as *'The Voodoo Queen." 

Page Baker, the editor of the Times Democrat immedi- 
ately came forward to defend Hearn from the charge. 
Referring to the Voodoo Queen, the article says: *'A11 
this wonderful tale is based upon the fact that Heam, 
like every other newspaper man in New Orleans who 
thought there might be a story in it, entered into com- 
munication with a negro woman, who called herself 
'Marie Levaux,' and pretended, falsely as was after- 



ward shown, to know something of the mysteries of 

** Whether as reporter, editor, or author, Hearn insisted 
on investigating for himself what he wrote ahont ; but what 
the Sun states is not only untrue, but would have been 
impossible in a Southern city like New Orleans, where the 
colour line is so strictly drawn. If Hearn had been the 
man the Sun says he was, he could not have held the posi- 
tion he did a week, much less the long years he remained 
in this city. . . . He certainly was not conventional 
in the order of his life any more than he was in the product 
of his brain. For this, the man being now dead and 
silent, the conventional takes the familiar revenge upon 

In 1875, as far as we can make out, Hearn left the En- 
quirer, and in the latter part of 1876 was on the staff of 
the Commercial, but he had too seriously wounded the sus- 
ceptibilities of society in Cincinnati to make existence any 
longer comfortable, or, indeed, possible. The uncongenial 
climate, also, of Ohio did not suit his delicate constitution. 
He longed to get away. 

Dreams had come to him of the strange Franco-Spanish 
city, the Great South Gate, lying at the mouth of the 
Mississippi. These dreams were evoked by reading one 
of Cable 's stories. When he first viewed New Orleans from 
the deck of the steamboat that had carried him from grey 
north-western mists into the tepid and orange-scented air of 
the South, his impression of the city, drowsing under the 
violet and gold of a November morning, were oddly con- 
nected with Jean ak-Poquelin. Even before he had left 
the steamboat his imagination had flown beyond the wilder- 
ness of cotton bales, the sierra-shaped roofs of the sugar 
sheds, to wander in search of the old slave-trader's man- 

A letter to his half-sister, Mrs. Atkinson, effectually dis- 



poses of the statement that he left Cincinnati in consequence 
of any difference of opinion with the editor of the Com- 
mercial. In fact, money for the journey was given to him 
as well as a roving commission for letters from Louisiana 
to be contributed to the columns of the newspaper. 




"So I wait for the poet's Pentecost — the inspiration of Nature — 
the descent of the Tongues of Fire. And I think they will come 
when the wild skies brighten, and the sun of the Mexican Gulf re- 
appears for his worshippers — with hymns of wind and sea, and the 
prayers of birds. When one becomes bathed in this azure and gold 
air — saturated with the perfume of the sea, he can't help writing 
something. And he cannot help feeling a new sense of being. The 
Soul of the Sea mingles with his own, is breathed into him: the 
Spirit that moveth over the deep is the Creator indeed — ^vivifying, 
illuminating, strengthening. I really feel his Religion — the sense of 
awe that comes to one in some great silent temple. You would feel 
it too under this eternal vault of blue, when the weird old Sea is 
touching the keys of his mighty organ . . ." i 

It was in the autumn of 1877 that Lafcadio Hearn, with 
forty dollars in his pocket and a head full of dreams, 
started for Memphis on his way to New Orleans. Mr. Hal- 
stead and Mr. Edward Henderson, editors of the Commer- 
cial, and his old friend, Mr. Watkin, were at the little 
Miami depot to bid him God speed. 

Memphis is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi 
and Ohio rivers. Hearn had to await the steamboat there 
on its return journey from New Orleans. In those days 
punctuality was not rigidly enforced, and very often the 
arrival of the steamer necessitated a wait of several days 
at Memphis. The only person with whom Hearn kept up 
communication in the northern city he had left was Henry 

1 Letter to Dr. Matas in Dr. Gould's book, "Concerning Lafcadio 
Hearn," Messrs. Fisher Unwin. 


Watkin. Hieroglyphs of ravens, tombstones, and crescent 
moons illustrate the text. It is in moments of loneliness 
and depression, such as these days at Memphis, that the 
real Hearn shows himself. *He becomes now and then 
almost defiantly frank in his self-revelations and confes- 

On October 28 he dispatched a card bearing two draw- 
ings of a raven; *'In a dilemma at Memphis" was the in- 
scription under a raven scratching its head with a claw. 
The other is merely labelled "Remorseful." His finances 
had, apparently, run out, and in spite of paying two dol- 
lars a day for his accommodations, he, according to his own 
account, had to lodge in a tumble-down, dirty, poverty- 
stricken hotel. 

I have already referred to Hearn 's choice of the name 
of **Ozias Midwinter," as signature to his series of letters 
contributed at this time to the Commercial. These letters, 
his first professional work, except "The Tan-yard Mur- 
der" and "The Ascent of the Spire of St. Peters," rescued 
from destruction, show how long hours of unflagging in- 
dustry spent on achieving a finished style were at last to 
bear fruit, giving them that extraordinary variety, ease, 
and picturesqueness which, combined with originality of 
thought and keenness of judgment, placed him ultimately 
in the forefront of the writers of the day. 

A postcard, written to Mr. Watkin on November 15, 
1877, enabled the identification in the files of the Com- 
mercial of these "Midwinter" letters. 

He approached the Memphis of the Mississippi, he said, 
dreaming of the Memphis of the Nile, and found but ten- 
antless warehouses with shattered windows, poverty-stricken 
hotels vainly striving to keep up appearances. . . . 
The city's life, he said, seemed to have contracted about 
its heart, leaving the greater portion of its body paralysed. 
It gave him the impression of a place that had been 



stricken by some great misfortune beyond the hope of 
recovery. When rain and white fogs came, the melancholy 
of Memphis became absolutely Stygian; all things wooden 
uttered strange groans and crackling sounds; all things 
of stone or of stucco sweated as if in the agony of dissolu- 
tion, and beyond the cloudy brow of the bluffs the Mis- 
sissippi flowed a Styx flood, with pale mists lingering like 
shades upon its banks. 

' ' Elagabalus, wishing to obtain some idea of the vastness 
of Imperial Rome, ordered all the cobwebs in the city to 
be collected together and heaped before him. Estimated 
by such a method, the size of Memphis would appear vast 
enough to astonish even Elagabalus." 

Of Forrest, the great Confederate leader, whose funeral 
took place at Memphis while Hearn was there, he gives 
a vivid description. "Rough, rugged, desperate, uncul- 
tured. His character fitted him rather for the life of the 
border and the planter. He was by nature a typical pio- 
neer — one of those fierce and terrible men who form in 
themselves a kind of protecting fringe to the borders of 
white civilisation." 

Then comes a typical paragraph : ' ' The night they buried 
him, there came a storm. . . . From the same room 
whence I had watched the funeral, I saw the Northern 
mists crossing the Mississippi into Arkansas like an in- 
vading army ; then came grey rain, and at last a fierce wind, 
making wild charges through it all. Somehow or other 
the queer fancy came to me that the dead Confederate 
cavalrymen, rejoined by their desperate leader, were fight- 
ing ghostly battles with the men who died for the Union." 

To Mr. Watkin he wrote describing his big, dreary hotel 
room overlooking the Mississippi w^hence he could hear the 
panting and puffing of the cotton boats and the deep calls 
of the river traffic, but of the Thompson Dean there was 
not a sign to be seen or heard. In every corner between 



the banisters of the old stairway spiders were busy spin- 
ning their dusty tapestries, and when he walked over the 
floors at night they creaked and groaned as if something or 
somebody was following him in the dark. 

It was, he declared, a lonely sensation, that of finding 
yourself alone in a strange city. He felt inclined to cry 
during the solitary hours of the night, as he used to do 
when a college boy returned from vacation. . . . **I 
suppose,'' he adds, "you are beginning to think I am writ- 
ing quite often. I suppose I am, and you know the reason 
why; and perhaps you are thinking to yourself, 'He feels 
lonely, and is accordingly affectionate, but by and by he 
will forget.' Well, I suppose you are right." By and by, 
when he was less lonely, he said, he would write perhaps 
only by weeks, or perhaps by months, or perhaps, again, 
only by years — until the times and places of old friend- 
ships were forgotten and old faces had become dim as 

At last the New Orleans steamer, the Thompson Dean, 
arrived, and Hearn floated off on board into the current 
of the mighty river, and also, inspired by the enchantment 
of his surroundings, into the flood-tide of his genius. A 
letter contributed to the Commercial, describing the "Fair 
Paradise of the South," the great sugar country, in which 
he now found himself, shows how he was gaining in the 
manipulation of his material, also gaining in the power of 
appreciating the splendour of the vision, the inmost ulti- 
mate secret Nature ever reveals to those who can compre- 
hend and decipher it. 

As the little half-blind genius sat on the cotton bales on 
the deck of the Thompson Dean those autumn days, peer- 
ing forth one moment, the next with nose close to the paper, 
his pen scratching rapidly, describing the marvellous 
pictures, setting down the impressions that slipped bj^ on 
either hand, all the joy of an imprisoned tumultuous soul 



set free, mentally and morally free, must have come to 
him. It breathes in every line, in every paragraph of his 
work. And not only was this passionate joy his, but also 
the exhilarating assurance of knowing that by self-denial, 
industry and the determination to succeed he had achieved 
and perfected the power to describe and expound the mar- 
vellous pageant to others. From the horizon widening in 
front of him, through the '* Great South Gate," from "The 
Gulf" and the Tropics, from Martinique and Florida 
came the health-giving breeze, carrying on its wings cour- 
age, regeneration, and the promise of future recognition 
and fame. 

Many were his backslidings, even to the extent of medi- 
tating suicide during the first years of his sojourn in New 
Orleans, but never did he fall so morally low as at Cin- 
cinnati. That life of sordidness and ignominy was left 
behind, the unclean spirit exorcised and cast forth! He 
had made his body a house of shame, but that very shame 
had set throbbing subtle, infinite vibrations, a spiritual 
resonance and response to higher endeavour and hope. He 
knew himself to be a man again, sane, clear-brained, his 
deep appreciation of beauty able to rise on the heights of 
the music of utterance as he poured forth the delight of his 

Surely some light from the Louisiana sun must have 
flashed from the page athwart the gloom of the dusty office 
of the Commercial; some magic, bewitching the senses of 
the practical, hard-headed editor, inducing him to offer 
the piece of poetic prose contributed by his "Ozias Mid- 
winter" correspondent, describing a Louisiana sunrise, to 
the ordinary reading public of a Cincinnati daily news- 




"The infinite gulf of blue above seems a shoreless sea, whose foam 
is stars, a myriad million lights are throbbing and flickering and pal- 
pitating, a vast stillness filled with perfume prevails over the land, — 
made only more impressive by the voices of the night-birds and 
crickets ; and all the busy voices of business are dead. The boats are 
laid up, cotton presses closed, and the city is half empty. So that 
the time is really inspiring. But I must wait to record the inspira- 
tion in some more energetic climate." 

It is by Hearn's letters to Mr. Watkin that we are able 
to follow his more intimate feelings and mode of life at this 
period of his career. He was at first extravagantly en- 
thusiastic about the quaint beauty and novelty of his sur- 
roundings, the luxuriant vegetation, the warmth of the 
climate, the charm of the Creole population of the older 
portion of the city. The wealth of a world, unworked gold 
in the ore, he declared, was to be found in this half -ruined 
Southern Paradise; in spite of her pitiful decay, it still 
was an enchanting city. This rose-coloured view of New 
Orleans was soon dissipated by pressing financial anxiety. 

He had been visiting his uncle, he wrote, and was on the 
verge of beggary. It was possible, however, to live on 
fish and vegetables for twenty cents a day. Not long after, 
we find him begging his old Dad to sell all his books, ** ex- 
cept the French ones," and send him the proceeds, as he 
was in a state of desperation with no friend to help him. 
The need of money, indeed, so cramped and hindered his 
movements that he was unable any longer to get material 
for the '^copy" of his newspaper correspondence. 



Want of money seems also to have necessitated frequent 
change of residence. His first card is written from 228 
Baronne Street, care of Mrs. Bustellos. In the left-hand 
corner is the drawing of a raven sitting disconsolate beside 
a door. Shortly afterwards he describes himself as liv- 
ing in an old house with dovecot-shaped windows shad- 
owed with creeping plants, where we have a picture 
of him sitting clos3 to the fire, smoking his pipe of 
^*terre Gamhiese/^ conjuring up fancies of palm-trees 
and humming-birds, and perfume-laden winds, while a 
** voice from the far tropics called to him across the 
darkaess. ' ' 

It is easy with our knowledge of Hearn to imagine how 
the money he started with in his pocket from Cincinnati 
melted away during his sojourn at Memphis, his journey 
down the Mississippi, and two or three days spent amidst 
the attractions of the curio shops and restaurants of the 
Crescent City. Gould mentions indignantly Hearn 's *' in- 
tolerable and brutalising improvidence." Without using 
language quite so intemperate, it must be acknowledged 
that he had a most irritating incapacity for mastering the 
ignoble necessity for making expenditure tally with reve- 
nue. The editor of the Commercial, being accustomed to 
deal with the ordinary American journalist, to whom forty 
dollars was as a fortune, did not reckon apparently with 
Hearn 's Celtic recklessness in the matter of ways and 

Seven months later, he declared that he hadn't made 
seven cents by his literary work in New Orleans. His 
books and clothes were all gone, his shirt was sticking 
through the seat of his pants, and he could only enjoy a 
five-cent meal once every two days. At last he hadn't 
even a penny to buy stamps to mail his letters, and still 
the Commercial hadn't sent him any supplies. Mr. Wat- 
kin's means did not admit of his helping the woe-begone 



'* raven.'* He was also prevented by business affairs from 
sending a reply for some weeks. 

His silence elicited another post-card, a tombstone this 
time, surmounted by a crescent moon, with a dishevelled- 
looking raven perched close by. 

**I dream of old, ugl}^ things," Heam writes years later 
from Japan, when referring to the possibility of his son 
being subjected to the poverty and suffering he had expe- 
rienced himself. ''I am alone in an American city, and 
I've only ten cents in my pocket — and to send off a letter 
that I must send will take three cents. That leaves me 
seven cents for the day's food. . . . The horror of be- 
ing without employ in an American city appals me — be- 
cause I remember. ' ' 

The Hermes of JEschylus ventured the opinion, as an 
impartial observer of events, that adversity was no doubt 
salutary for Prometheus. The same might be said of most 
of those touched with Promethean fire. Not only does 
privation and struggle keep the spark alight, but often 
blows it into a flame. In spite of hunger and straitened 
means, Hearn was absorbing impressions on every hand. 
New Orleans, in the seventies and eighties of last century, 
presented conditions for the nourishing and expanding of 
such a genius as his, that were most likely unattainable in 
any other city in the world. 

From an article written by him, entitled *'The Scenes 
of Cable's Romances," that appeared at this time in the 
Century Magazine, we can conjure up this strange city 
rising out of the water like a dream, its multi-coloured 
dilapidated Franco-Spanish houses, with their eccentric 
fagades and quaint shop-signs and names. We can see the 
Rue Royale, its picturesqueness almost unadulterated by 
innovation, its gables, eaves, dormers, projecting balconies 
or verandahs, overtopping or jutting out of houses of 
every imaginable tint; each window adorned with sap- 



green batten shutters, and balustraded with Arabesque 
work in wrought iron, framing some monogram of which 
the meaning is forgotten. We can imagine the little 
genius wandering along such a street, watching the Indians 
as they passed in coloured blankets, Mexicans in leather 
gaiters, negresses decked out in green and yellow bandanas, 
planters in white flannels, American business men in broad- 
cloth and straw hats — sauntering backwards and forwards 
beneath the quaint arcades, balconies and coloured awnings. 

We picture the savannahs and half-submerged cypress- 
groves on the river bank, the green and crimson sunsets, 
the star-lit dusks, the sound of the mighty current of the 
Mississippi as it slipped by under the shadow of willow- 
planted jungle and rustling orange-groves towards Bara- 
taria and the Gulf. 

He describes a planter's house, an *' antique vision,'* 
relic of the feudal splendours of the great cotton and 
sugar country, endeavouring to hide its ruin amidst over- 
grown gardens and neglected groves, oak-groves left un- 
touched only because their French Creole owners, though 
ruined, refused to allow Yankee interlopers to cart them 
to the sawmill, or to allow them to be sent away to the cities 
up North. 

We follow him as, in his near-sighted, observant way he 
wandered through the city, listening to the medley of 
strange tongues peculiar to the great southern port; ob- 
serving the Chinese in the fruit-market, yellow as bananas, 
the quadroons with skins like dead gold, swarthy sailors 
from the Mediterranean coasts and the Levant — from 
Sicily and Cyprus, Corsica and Malta, the Ionian Archi- 
pelago, and a hundred cities fringing the coasts of southern 
Europe, wanderers who have wandered all over the face 
of the earth, sailors who have sailed all seas, sunned them- 
selves at a hundred tropical ports, casting anchor at last 
by the levee of New Orleans, under a sky as divinely blue, 



in a climate as sunny and warm as their own beloved sea. 
Amongst them all he was able, he imagined, to distinguish 
some on whose faces lay a shadow of the beauty of the 
antique world — one, in particular, from Zante, first a sailor, 
then a vendor; some day, perhaps, a merchant. Hearn 
immediately purchased some of his oranges, a dozen at six 

From the market he made his way to the Spanish 
cathedral, founded by the representation of His Most 
Catholic Majesty, Don Andre Alminaster, where plebeian 
feet were blotting out the escutcheons of the knights of the 
ancient regime, and the knees of worshippers obliterating 
their memory from the carven stone. 

Side by side with him you find your way to the cotton 
landing of the levee, thence watch the cotton presses with 
monstrous heads of living iron and brass, fifty feet high 
from their junction with the ground, with their mouths 
five feet wide, opening six feet from the mastodon teeth in 
the lower jaw. "The more I looked at the thing," he says, 
"the more I felt as though its prodigious anatomy had been 
studied after the anatomy of some extinct animal, — the 
way those jaws worked, the manner in which those muscles 
moved. Men rolled a cotton bale to the mouth of the mon- 
ster. The jaws opened w4th a loud roar, and so remained. 
The lower jaw had descended to the level with the platform 
on which the bale was lying. It was an immense plan- 
tation bale. Two black men rolled it into the yawning 
mouth. The Titan muscles contracted, and the jaws closed 
silently, steadily, swiftly. The bale flattened, flattened, 
flattened down to sixteen inches, twelve inches, eight inches, 
five inches, — positively less than five inches ! I thought it 
was going to disappear altogether. But after crushing it 
beyond five inches the jaw remained stationary and the 
monster growled like rumbling thunder. I thought the 
machine began to look as hideous as one of those horrible 



yawning heads which formed the gates of the Teocallis at 
Palenque, through whose awful jaws the sacrificed victims 

The romance that hung over the French colony of New 
Orleans appealed to Hearn's love of the picturesque. The 
small minority, obliged to submit to the rules and laws of 
the United States, but animated by a feeling of futile 
rebellion against their rulers, still remaining devoted to 
their country that had sold them for expediency. 

With the sympathy of his Celtic nature he entered into 
the misery of those who had once been opulent — the 
princely misery that never doffed its smiling mask, though 
living in secret from week to week on bread and orange- 
leaf tea, the misery that affected condescension in accepting 
an invitation to dine, staring at the face of a watch (re- 
fused by the mont de piete) with eyes half -blinded by 
starvation; the pretty misery, young, brave, sweet, asking 
for '^a treat" of cakes too jocosely to have its asking an- 
swered, laughing and coquetting with its well-fed wooers, 
and crying for hunger after they were gone. 

Here for the first time since the France of his youthful 
days, Hearn mixed with Latins, seldom hearing the English 

During this time, while he was loafing and dreaming, 
he at various intervals contributed letters to the Commer- 
cial. Now that his genius has become acknowledged, these 
**Ozias Midwinter" letters, written in the autumn and 
winter of 1877 and 1878, are appreciated at their just 
value; but it would be absurd to say that from the ac- 
cepted signification of the word they come under the head 
of satisfactory newspaper reporting. The American pub- 
lic wanted a clear and dispassionate view of political af- 
fairs in the state of Louisiana, and how they were likely to 
affect trade in the state of Ohio. 

We can imagine an honest Cincinnati citizen puzzling 



over the following, and wondering what in all creation the 
**Louisianny" correspondent meant by giving him such 
rubbish to digest with his morning 's breakfast : — 

'*I think there is some true poetry in these allusions to 
the snake. Is not the serpent a symbol of grace? Is not 
the so-called 'line of beauty' serpentine? And is there 
not something of the serpent in the beauty of all graceful 
women? something of undulating shapeliness, something 
of silent fascination ? something of Lilith and Lamia ? ' ' 

In April, 1878, apparently in response to a demand for 
news more suited to the exigencies of a daily northern 
newspaper, came two letters on political questions, written 
in so biassed and half-hearted a fashion that it was not 
surprising to see the next letter from New Orleans signed 
by another name. So the little man lost his opportunity, 
an opportunity such as is given to few journalists, situated 
as he was, of earning a competency and achieving a literary 
position. He himself acknowledged that his own incom- 
patibility of temper and will were to be credited with most 
of the adverse circumstances which beset him so frequently 
during the course of his life. A little yielding on his part 
was all that was necessary at this time to enable him to 
keep his head above water until regular work came his 

Not long after this catastrophe Hearn attained his 
twenty-eighth birthday. Alluding to this fact, he says 
that, looking back to the file of his twenty-eight years, he 
realised an alarming similarity of misery in each of them, 
ill-success in every aim, an inability to make headway by 
individual force against unforeseen and unexpected dis- 
appointments. Indeed, sometimes, when success seemed 
certain, it was upset by some unanticipated obstacle, gen- 
erally proceeding from his ovti waywardness and unprac- 
tical nature. Some loss of temper, and impatience, which, 
instead of being restrained and concealed, was shown with 



stupid frankness, might be credited with a large majority 
of failures. All this he confessed in one of his character- 
istic letters addressed to Mr. Watkin about this time. He 
then recounts the sufferings he had been through, how he 
found it impossible to make ten dollars a month when 
twenty was a necessity for comfortable living. He had 
been cheated, he said, and swindled considerably, and had 
cheated and swindled others in retaliation. Then he 
damns New Orleans and its inhabitants, as later he damned 
Japan and the Japanese. But the real fact was that, with 
that gipsy-like nature of his, he loved wandering and 
change of scene; he disliked the monotony of staying be- 
yond a certain time in the same place. **My heart always 
feels like a bird, fluttering impatiently for the migrating 
season. I think I could be quite happy if I were a swallow 
and could have a summer nest in the ear of an Egyptian 
Colossus, or a broken capital of the Parthenon.'* 

About this time an epidemic of yellow fever swept over 
the city, desolating the population. Hearn did not fall a 
victim, but underwent a severe attack of '* dengue" fever. 

* ' I got hideously sick, and then well again, ' ' he writes to 
Mrs. Atkinson. It killed nearly seven thousand people. 
He describes the pest-stricken city, with its heat motionless 
and ponderous. The steel-blue of the sky bleached from 
the furnace circle of the horizon; the slow-running river, 
its current yellow as a flood of fluid wax, the air suffocating 
with vapour; and the luminous city filled with a faint, 
sickly odour — a stale smell as of dead leaves suddenly dis- 
interred from wet mould, and each day the terror-stricken 
population offering its sacrifice to Death, the faces of the 
dead yellow as flame! On door-posts, telegraph-poles, pil- 
lars of verandahs, lamps over government letter-boxes, 
glimmered the white enunciations of death. All the city 
was spotted with them. And lime was poured into the gut- 
ters, and huge purifying fires kindled after sunset. 



After his attack of fever, unable to regain his strength 
owing to insufficient food and the unhealthiness of the part 
of the city where he had elected to live, Hearn's eyesight 
became affected. 

**I went stone blind, had to be helped to a doctor's office 
— ^no money, no friends. My best friend was a revolver 
kept to use in ease the doctor failed, ' ' he tells his sister. 

In ** Chita,*' which, as we have said, is only a bundle of 
reminiscences, he refers to the suicide of a Spaniard, 
Ramirez. From his tomb a sinister voice seemed to say, 
**Go thou and do likewise!" . . . Then began within 
that man the ghostly struggle between courage and despair, 
between darkness and light, which all sensitive natures 
must wage in their own souls at least once in their lives. 
The suicide is not a coward, he is an egotist ; as he strug- 
gled with his own worst self something of the deeper and 
nobler comprehension of human weakness and human suf- 
fering was revealed to him. He flung the lattice shutters 
apart and looked out. How sweet the morning, how well 
life seemed worth living, as the sunlight fell through the 
frost haze outside, lighting up the quaint and chequered 
street and fading away through faint bluish tints into 
transparent purples. Verily it is the sun that gladdeneth 
the infinite world. 




"There are no more mysteries — except what are called hearts, 
those points at which individuals rarely touch each other, only to feel 
as sudden a thrill of surprise as at meeting a ghost, and then to won- 
der in vain, for the rest of life, what lies out of soul-sight." i 

The doctor Hearn alludes to in his letter to his sister 
was Rudolf Matas, a Spaniard, now an eminent physician 
and a very important person in New Orleans. He did not 
fail the little man who was brought almost stone blind to 
his consulting-room that winter of 1876. In six months his 
eyes were comparatively well, and he was able to return 
to regular literary w^ork. 

Matas always remained Hearn 's firm partisan, and was 
an enthusiastic admirer of his genius ; Hearn seems to have 
reciprocated his affection, and years afterwards addressed 
some of his most interesting letters from Martinique to his 
*'dear brother and friend Rudolf o Matas." By him he is 
said to have been told the incidents in the story of ' ' Chita, ' ' 
and to him the book was dedicated. 

After the yellow fever had passed away ^' there were 
plenty of vacancies waiting to be filled," Hearn signifi- 
cantly tells his sister. . . . 

A daily newspaper called the Item was at that time 
issued in New Orleans. A great deal of clipping and paste- 
pot went to its production, ''items" taken from European 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn," Houghton, Mifflin 
& Co. 



and American sources filling most of its columns. Hearn 
described it as a poor little sheet going no farther north 
than St. Louis. 

He was offered the assistant-editorship ; the leisure that 
he found for literary pursuits on his own account more 
than compensated for the smallness of the salary. He 
hoped now to be able to scribble as much as he liked, and 
to have an opportunity for reading, with a view to more 
consecutive and concentrated work than mere contributions 
to daily and weekly newspapers. He also had many op- 
portunities, he said, for mixing with strange characters, 
invaluable as literary material — Creoles, Spaniards, Mex- 
icans — all that curious, heterogeneous society peculiar to 
New Orleans. 

If in Cincinnati to mix with coloured folk was deemed 
sufficient to place yourself under the ban of decent society, 
it was ten times more so in New Orleans; but Lafcadio 
Hearn, Bohemian and rebel, took the keenest pleasure in 
outraging public opinion, and challenging scandalous 
tongues, breaking out of bounds whenever the spirit 
prompted, and throwing in his lot with people who were 
looked upon as pariahs and outcasts from the world of so- 
called respectability. 

At one time he took up his abode in a ruined house, under 
the same roof as a Creole fortune-teller. He describes her 
room with its darkened windows, skulls and crossbones, and 
lamp lit in front of a mysterious shrine. This was quite 
sufficient to associate his name with hers, and many were 
the unfounded rumours — Nemesis of the unfortunate epi- 
sode with Althea Foley at Cincinnati — which floated north- 
wards regarding the manner of his life. 

Some members of a Brahminical Society visited New 
Orleans about this time. Needless to say that Hearn im- 
mediately foregathered with them, and in leisure hours took 
to studying the theories of the East, the poetry of ancient 



India, the teachings of the wise concerning ^'absorption 
and emotion, the illusions of existence, and happiness as 
the equivalent of annihilation," maintaining that Bud- 
dhism was wiser than the wisest of occidental faiths. He 
astonished the readers of the Item by weird and mystical 
articles on the subject of the Orient and oriental creeds, 
considerably increasing the sale of the little paper, and 
drawing attention, amongst cultured circles in New Or- 
leans, to his own genius. 

The routine of his life at this time is given in letters 
written to his **old Dad" and his friend, Krehbiel. 

The same ascetic scorn for material comfort, heritage of 
his oriental ancestry, seems to have distinguished him at 
this period in New Orleans, as later in Japan. The early 
cup of coffee, the morning *s work at the office, * * concocting 
devilment" for the Item, his Spanish lessons with Jose de 
Jesus y Preciado, the ** peripatetic blasphemy," as he 
named him afterwards, dinner at a Chinese restaurant for 
an infinitesimal sum, an hour or two spent at second-hand 
book-stalls, and home to bed. There is, I am told, an in- 
dividual, Armand Hawkins by name, owner of an ancient 
book-store at New Orleans, still alive, who remembers the 
curious little genius, with his prominent eyes, wonderful 
knowledge on all sorts of out-of-the-way subjects recounted 
in a soft, musical voice, who used to come almost daily to 
visit his book-store. He it was who enabled Hearn to get 
together the library about which there has been so much 
discussion since his death. Next to his love of buying old 
books, Hearn 's great indulgence seems to have been smok- 
ing, not cigars, but pipes of every make and description. 

The glimpses we get of him from his own letters and 
from reminiscences collected from various people in New 
Orleans all give the same impression. A Bohemian love 
of vagabondage, picking up impressions here and there, 
some of which were set down in pencil, some in ink ; as far 



3S his eyesight would permit, many were the sketches made 
at this time. None of them have been preserved, except 
the very clever Mephistophelian one sent to Mr. Watkin 
and reproduced in the volume entitled *' Letters from the 
Raven." *'He was a gifted creature," says a lady who 
knew him at this time. * ' He came fluttering in and out of 
our house like a shy moth, and was adored by my chil- 

He had no ambitions, no loves, no anxieties, sometimes 
a vague unrest without a motive, sometimes a feeling as 
if his heart were winged and trying to soar; sometimes a 
half-crazy passion for a great night with wine and women 
and music; but the wandering passion was strongest of 
all, and he felt no inclination to avail himself of the only 
anchor which keeps the ship of a man's life in port. . . . 
Nights were so liquid with tropic moonlight, days so splen- 
did with green and gold, summer so languid with perfume 
and warmth, that he hardly knew whether he was dream- 
ing or awake. 

In 1881, Hearn succeeded in becoming a member of the 
staff of the leading New Orleans paper, the Times Demo- 
crat, "the largest paper," he tells his sister, "in the South- 
ern States. ' ' He now seemed to have entered on a halcyon 
period of life — congenial society, romantic and interesting 
surroundings. Penetrated with enthusiasm for the mod- 
ern French literary school as he was, he here met intellects 
and temperaments akin to his own. Now he was enabled 
to get his translations from Gautier and Baudelaire printed, 
and read for the first time by an appreciative public. 
** Everybody was kind," he tells his sister; *'I became well 
and strong, lived steadily, spent my salary on books. I 
was thus able to make up for my deficiencies of education. 
. . . I had only a few hours of work each day ; — plenty 
of time to study. I. wrote novels and other books which 
literary circles approved of." 



"With Page Baker, the owner and editor-in-chief of the 
Times Democrat, he formed a salutary and enduring friend- 
ship. The very difference in character between the two 
seems to have made the bond all the more enduring. Page 
Baker was a man of great business capacity, and at the 
same time keen discrimination in literary affairs. From 
the first he conceived the highest opinion of Hearn's liter- 
ary ability. However fantastic or out-of-the-way his con- 
tributions to the columns of the Times Democrat, they 
were always inserted without elision. Years afterwards, 
writing to him from Japan, Hearn declares, in answer to a 
panegyric written by Page Baker on some of his Japanese 
books, that the most delightful criticisms he ever had were 
Page Baker's own readings aloud of his vagaries in the 
'^ T. D/' office, after the proofs came down, just fresh from 
the composition room, with the wet, sharp, inky smell still 
on the paper. Baker, apparently, in 1893 sent him sub- 
stantial help, and Hearn writes thanking him from the 
bottom of his much-scarified heart. Often amidst the 
cramped, austere conditions of his existence in Japan, he 
recalled these days of communion with congenial spirits 
at New Orleans, and work with his colleagues at the Times 
Democrat office. "Ghosts! After getting your letter last 
night I dreamed. Do you remember that splendid Creole 

who used to be your city editor — John ? — is it not a sin 

that I have forgotten his name? He sat in a big chair in 
the old office, and told me wonderful things, which I could 
not recall on waking.'* 

In a letter dated July 7, 1882, Hearn tells Mr. Watkin 
that he had entered into an arrangement with Worthing- 
ton, the publisher, for the issuing of his translation of 
Gautier's stories made at Cincinnati. It was to cost him 
one hundred and fifty dollars, but there was an under- 
standing that this money was to be repaid by royalties on 
the sale of the book and any extra profits. He announced 



his intention of going North in a few months by way of 
Cincinnati, as he wished to see Worthington about his new 
publication. Though he was making, he said, the respect- 
able wage of thirty dollars a week for five hours' work a 
day, he felt enervated by the climate, incapable of any 
long stretch of work, and thought change to a northern 
climate for a bit might stimulate his intellectual powers. 
He then touched on the changes that passing years had 
wrought in his outlook on life. ''Less despondent, but 
less hopeful; wiser a little and more silent; less nervous, 
but less merry ; . . . not strictly economical, but com- 
ing to it steadily." His horizons w^ere widening, the ac- 
complishment of a fixed purpose in life was really the only 
pleasurable experience, and the grasp of a friendly hand 
the only real satisfaction of an existence that wisdom de- 
clared a delusion and a snare. 

Hearn at times indulged in exaggerated fits of economy, 
the one thought that animated him being the idea of free- 
ing himself from the yoke of dependence on the whims of 
employers — from the harness of journalism. He made up 
his mind to keep house for himself, so hired a room in the 
northern end of the French quarter, and purchased a com- 
plete set of cooking utensils and kitchen ware. He suc- 
ceeded in reducing his expenses to two dollars a week, and 
kept them at that (exclusive of rent), although his salary 
rose to thirty dollars a week. Having saved a respectable 
sum, he formed the fantastical idea of trying to keep a 
restaurant, run on the lines of the cheap Spanish and 
Chinese restaurants he had been wont to frequent. ''Bus- 
iness — ye Antiquities"; hard, practical business! he told 
Krehbiel; honourable, respectable business, but devoid of 
dreamful illusions. "Alas, this is no world for dream- 

The venture ended as might have been expected. 
Hearn had not inherited the commercial insti^jcts of his 



ancestors who sold oil and wine in the Ionian Islands ; his 
partner robbed him of all the money he had invested, 
and decamped, leaving him saddled with the restaurant 
and a considerable number of debts. A swindling build- 
ing society seems to have absorbed the rest of his 

After these two catastrophes the little man became al- 
most comically terrified at financial enterprise of any kind, 
even the investment of money in dividend-paying concerns. 
When Captain Mitchell McDonald later, in Japan, endeav- 
oured to induce him to put his money into various lucrative 
concerns, Hearn declared that he would prefer to lose 
everything he owned than submit to the worry of investing 
it. The mere idea of business was * * a horror, a nightmare, 
a torture unspeakable.*' 

Though apparently only journalising and translating, 
Hearn was piling up experiences and sensations, not mak- 
ing use of them except in letters, but laying down the 
concrete and setting the foundation for his work in the 
"West Indies and Japan. *'The days come and go like 
muffled and veiled figures sent from a friendly, distant 
party ; but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts 
they bring, they carry them silently away. ' ' Emerson did 
not take into account those apparently infertile periods in 
an artist 's life, when the days come and go, but though they 
pass silently away, all their gifts are not unused, nor is 
their passage unproductive. How invaluable, for instance, 
was Hearn 's study of Creole proverbs for his "Two Years 
in the French West Indies." How invaluable for his in- 
terpretation of the Orient were the studies he undertook 
for ** Strange Leaves from Strange Literature," and his 
six small adaptations entitled ** Chinese Ghosts." 

After several refusals * ' Stray Leaves ' ' was accepted for 
publication by Osgood. He thus announced the fact to his 
friend Krehbiel : — 



''Dear K. (Private), 

' ' ' Stray Leaves, * etc., have been accepted by James 
R. Osgood and Co. Congratulate your little Dreamer of 
Monstrous Dreams, 

''Aschadnan na Mahomet Rasoul Allah, 


The book was dedicated to ''Page M. Baker, Editor of 
the New Orleans Times Democrat." 

This series of small sketches is typical of the clarity of 
language and purity of thought that invariably distinguish 
Hearn's work; but it lacks the realism, the keenness of 
choses vueSf so characteristic of his Japanese sketches. 
There is none of the haunting, moving tragedy and ghost- 
liness, the spiritual imagination and introspection of 
"Kokoro'' or the "Exotics." Though polished and schol- 
arly, showing refinement in the use of words, the interest 
is remote and visionary, permeated here and there also 
with a certain amount of Celtic sentimentality, a "Tommy 
Moore" flavour, somewhat too saccharine in quality. The 
one, for instance, called "Boutimar" treats of a very hack- 
neyed subject, the offering of the water of youth, and life 
without end, to Solomon, and the sage's refusal, because of 
the remembrance suggested by Boutimar that he would 
outlive children, friends and all whom he loved; therefore 
"Solomon, without reply, silently put out his arm and 
gave back the cup. . . . But upon the prophet-king's 
rich beard, besprinkled with powder of gold, there ap- 
peared another glitter as of clear dew, — the diamond dew 
of the heart, which is tears." 

"Chinese Ghosts," though distinguished also by that 
soigneux flavour that gives a slightly artificial impression, 
holds far more the distinctive flavour of Hearn's genius. 
His own soul is written into the legend of "Pu the potter." 



*^ Convinced that a soul cannot be divided, Pu entered the 
flame, and yielded up his ghost in the embrace of the Spirit 
of the Furnace, giving his life for the life of his work, — 
his soul for the soul of his Vase." 

By the publication of the "Letters from the Raven" we 
are enabled to push those to Krehbiel, published by Miss 
Bisland, into place, and assign fairly accurate dates to each 
of them. He tells Mr. Watkin that he was six months 
before finding a fixed residence. In August, 1878, he 
writes inviting him to come in the autumn to pay him a 
visit, and telling him of delightful rooms with five large 
windows opening on piazzas, shaded by banana-trees. 
This apparently is the house in St. Louis Street, which he 
describes to Krehbiel. Miss Bisland places it almost at the 
beginning of the series, but it must have been written at a 
considerably later period. How picturesque and vivid is 
his description! With the magic of his pen he conjures 
up the huge archway, with its rolling echoes, the court- 
yard surrounded by palm-trees, their dry leaves rustling 
in the wind, the broad stairway guarded by a hoary dog, 
his own sitting-room and study, *'vast enough for a carni- 
val ball," with its five windows and glass doors opening 
flush with the floor and rising to the ceiling. 

Gautier, the artist to whom at one time Hearn pinned 
his faith, is said to have observed once to an admirer of 
his art: '*I am only a man to whom the visible world is 
visible. ' * So Laf cadio Hearn, though gifted with only half 
the eyesight of ordinary folk, was by the prescience of his 
genius enabled to see not only the visible world that the 
Frenchman saw, but an immaterial and spiritual world as 




"Writing to you as a friend, I write of my thoughts and fancies, 
of my wishes and disappointments, of my frailties and follies and 
failures and successes, — even as I would write to a brother. So that 
sometimes what might not seem strange in words, appears very 
strange upon paper." 

Lafcadio Hearn's thoughts, aspirations and mode of 
life are revealed with almost daily minuteness during this 
period at New Orleans — indeed, for the rest of his life, by 
his interchange of letters with various friends. Those 
contained in the three volumes published by Miss Bisland 
(Mrs. Wetmore) are now indisputably placed in the first 
rank amongst the many series from eminent people that 
have been given to the world during the last half-c6ntury. 
It is apparent in every line that no idea of publicity actu- 
ated the writing of his outpourings; indeed, we imagine 
that nothing would have surprised Hearn more than the 
manner in which his letters have been discussed, quoted, 
criticised. They are simply the outcome of an impulse to 
unburden an extraordinarily imaginative and versatile 
brain of its cargo of opinions, views, prejudices, beliefs ; to 
pour, as it were, into the listening ear of an intelligent and 
sympathetic friend the confessions of his own intellectual 
struggles, his doubts and despairs. Shy, reserved, op- 
pressed in social daily intercourse by a sense of physical 
disabilities, with a pen in hand and a sheet of paper in front 
of him, he cast off all disquieting considerations and al- 
lowed the spiritual structure of emotion and thought to 
show itself in the nakedness of its humanity. 



To most authors letter-writing is an unwelcome task. 
**Ask a carpenter to plane planks just for fun," as Hearn 
quotes from Gautier; but to him it was a relaxation from 
his daily task of journalism and literary work. Dr. Gould 
says that, while stopping in his house at Philadelphia, 
Hearn would sometimes break off suddenly in the midst of a 
discussion, especially if he were afraid of losing his tem- 
per, and retire to his own room, where he would fill sheets 
of the yellow paper, which he habitually used, with theories 
and reasons for and against his argument; these he would 
leave later on Gould's study table. 

To his literary brother, Krehbiel, he discourses, as if 
they were face to face, of artistic endeavour and the larger 
life of the intellect. In his ** jeremiads" to Mr. Watkin he 
reveals his most intimate feelings and sufferings; the 
routine of his daily work is told hour by hour. Perpetu- 
ally standing outside himself, as it were, he studies his 
nature, inclinations, habits, and yet never gives you the 
impression of being egotistical. His attitude is rather that 
of a scientist studying an odd specimen. The intellectual 
isolation of his latter years, passed amongst an alien race 
with alien views and beliefs, seems to have created a neces- 
sity for converse with those of his own race and mode of 
thought; his correspondence with Chamberlain reflects all 
his perturbations of spirit — ^perturbations that he dared not 
confide to those surrounding him — a record of illusion and 
disillusion with regard to his adopted country. The Japa- 
nese letters, therefore, above all, have the charm of temper- 
ament, the very essence of the man, recorded in a style of 
remarkable picturesqueness and reality. 

The series of letters to Mrs. Atkinson, of which I have 
been given possession for use in this sketch of Hearn 's life, 
have an entirely different signification to those already 
referred to. Unfortunately I am not permitted to give 
them in their entirety, as Hearn in his usual petulant, 



reckless fashion refers to family incidents, and speaks of 
relations in a manner which it would be impossible to pub- 
lish to the world. 

Many of the most characteristic passages have neces- 
sarily, therefore, been omitted; in spite of this, there are 
many portions intensely interesting as a revelation of a 
side of his character not hitherto shown to the public. 
Pathetic recurrences to childish memories, incidents of his 
boyhood that reveal a certain tenderness for places and 
people which, hitherto, reserved as he was, he never had 
expressed to outsiders. The sudden awakening of broth- 
erly romantic attachment for his half-sister, and the 
equally sudden break-off of all communications and inter- 
course, are so thoroughly characteristic of Hearn's way- 
ward and unaccountable character. How, after such an 
incident, absolve him of the charge, so frequently made, of 
caprice and inconstancy; in fact, you would not attempt 
to defend him were it not for the unwavering friendship 
and affection displayed in one or two instances; above all, 
in the unselfish and generous manner in which he gave up 
all his private inclinations and ambitions for the sake of his 
mfe and family, and his undeviating devotion to Miss 
Bisland (Mrs. Wetmore), the Lady of a Myriad Souls, to 
whom his most beautiful and eloquent letters are ad- 

It seems really to have only been during the last decade 
of his life that he allowed irritability and sensitiveness to 
interfere between him and his best friends. Years after 
he had left Cincinnati, he recalled the memory of com- 
rades he had left there ; never were their mutual struggles 
and aspirations forgotten. *'It seemeth to me," he writes 
to Krehbiel, ''that I behold overshadowing the paper the 
most Dantesque silhouette of one who walked with me the 
streets of the far-off Western city by night, and mth whom 
I exchanged ghostly fancies and phantom hopes. . . . 



How the old forces have been scattered! But is it not 
pleasant to observe that the members of the broken circle 
have been mounting higher and higher to the Supreme 
Hope? Perhaps we may all meet some day in the East 
whence, the legendary word hath it, 'Lightning ever com- 
eth.' '' 

He always remained generously sympathetic to the liter- 
ary interests and ventures of the "Cincinnati Brother- 
hood." Tunison wrote a book on the Virgilian Legend, 
Hearn devotes paragraphs, suggesting titles, publishers, 
and the best place for publication. To Farney, the artist, 
he offers hospitality, if he will come to New Orleans to 
paint some of the quaint nooks and corners ; and later, he 
recommends him to Lliss Bisland as an artist whom she 
might employ to do illustrations for her magazine. "Lazy 
as a serpent, but immensely capable." 

Hearn was a strange mixture of humility and conceit, 
but there was not a particle of literary jealousy in his 

To Krehbiel he writes: "Comparing yourself to me 
won't do . . . dear old fellow! I am in most things 
a botch. You say you envy me certain qualities ; but you 
forget how those qualities are at variance with an Art 
whose beauties are geometrical and whose perfection is 
mathematical. You envy me my power of application, 
if you only knew the pain and labour I have to create a 
little good work! And there are months when I cannot 
write. It is not hard to write when the thought is there ; 
but the thought will not always come ; there are weeks when 
I cannot even think. ' ' 

Though humble about his own, he was intolerant of 
amateur art. Comically averse to criticising his friends' 
work, he implores Mitchell McDonald not to send him his 
literary efforts, and is loath even to express an opinion on 
Miss Bisland 's. Reading these letters containing a rec- 



ord of the manner in which he goes to work, writing and 
re-writing until the thought re-shaped itself and the style 
was polished and fixed, we can see how high he pitched his 
ideal and how unlikely it was that others would reach the 
same standard. 

In one letter, written in the fifty-third year of his age, 
to Professor Chamberlain, after thirty years of literary 
work, he, one of the most finished masters of English prose, 
confesses to drudgery worthy of his boyish days, when 
plodding over an English composition at Ushaw College. 

He recommended Roget's "Thesaurus" to a young au- 
thor who asked his advice; Skeat's Dictionarj^ too, and 
Brachet for French, as books that give the subtle sense 
of words, to which much that arrests attention in prose 
and poetry are due. The consciousness of art gives a new 
faith, he says, after one of these passages of good advice. 
Putting jesting on one side, he believed that if he could 
create something he knew to be sublime he would feel that 
the Unknown Power had selected him for a medium of 
utterance, in the holy cycle of its eternal purpose. 

In consequence of various opinions and criticisms ex- 
pressed by Lafcadio Hearn in his letters, a charge has been 
brought against him of showing no appreciation for the 
greater intellectual luminaries. The little man's personal 
prejudices were certainly too pronounced to make his a 
trustworthy opinion, either upon political or literary af- 
fairs. The mood or whim of the moment influenced his 
judgment, causing him often to commit himself to state- 
ments that must not be accepted at the foot of the letter. 
He admitted that, being a creature of extremes, he did not 
see what existed where he loved or hated, and confessed to 
being an extremely crooked visioned judge of art. It is 
these whimsical and unexpected revelations of his own 
method of thought and artistic theories that constitute the 
charm of his letters. You feel as though you were passing 



through a varied and strongly accentuated landscape. 
You never know what will be revealed over the brow of the 
hill, or round the next bend of the road. In a delightfully 
humorous, whimsical passage, he declares that his mind to 
him ^'a kingdom was — not!" Rather was it a fantastical 
republic, daily troubled by more revolutions than ever 
occurred in South America; he then goes on to enumerate 
his possession of souls, some of them longing to live in 
tropical solitude, others in the bustle of great cities, others 
hating inaction, and others dwelling in meditative isolation. 
He gives us, in fact, in this passage the very essence of his 
personality, with all his whims, vagaries, freakishness and 
inconstancy set down by his own incomparable pen. 

Things moved him artistically rather than critically, 
carrying him hither and thither in the movement of every 
whispering breeze of romance and poetry, equally preju- 
diced and intolerant in likes and dislikes of people and 
places as in literary affairs. *'I had a sensation the other 
day^" he writes to Basil Hall Chamberlain. **I felt as if 
I hated Japan unspeakably, and the whole world seemed 
not worth living in, when there came to the house two 
women to sell ballads. One took her samisen and sang; 
never did I listen to anything sweeter. All the sorrow 
and beauty, all the pain and the sweetness of life thrilled 
and quivered in that voice ; and the old first love of Japan 
and of things Japanese came back, and a great tenderness 
seemed to fill the place like a haunting. ' ' ^ 

In a moment of petulance he committed himself to the 
statement that he could not endure any more of Words- 
worth, Keats, or Shelley, having learnt the gems of them 
by heart. He really thought he preferred Dobson, Watson, 
and Lang. It is generally easy to trace the impulse dic- 
tating the criticism of the moment. While he was writing 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn," Houghton, Miflflin 
& Co. 



the sketch at Kumamoto entitled ''The Stone Buddha," 
Chamberlain lent him a volume of Watson's poems — ''The 
Dream of Man" he declared to be "high sublimity," be- 
cause Watson happened to enunciate philosophical ideas 
akin to his own. Dobson had translated some poems of 
Gautier's, and therefore was worthy of all honour; Miss 
Deland was ' ' one of the greatest novelists of the century, ' ' 
because the heroine of "Philip and His Wife" reminded 
him of Miss Bisland. He pronounced IMatthew Arnold to 
be "one of the colossal humbugs of the century; a fifth-rate 
poet, and an unutterably dreary essayist," because at the 
moment he was animated by one of his intense enthusiasms 
for Edwin Arnold, whose acquaintance Hearn had made 
during one of Arnold's visits to Japan. "Far the nobler 
man and writer, permeated with the beauties of strong 
faiths and exotic creeds; the spirit that, in some happier 
era, may bless mankind with the universal religion in per- 
fect harmony with the truths of science, and the better na- 
ture of humanity." 

But in spite of all his whimsicality, and when uninflu- 
enced by pique or partiality, his criticisms are not to be 
surpassed, here and there expanding into an inspired burst 
of enthusiasm. On cloudy nights, when passing through 
southern seas, the waste of water sometimes spreads like 
a dark metallic surface round you. A shoal of fish or band 
of porpoises suddenly comes along; the surface begins to 
ripple and move ; flakes of phosphorescence shoot here and 
there; illumined streaks flash alongside the ship, and in a 
few seconds the undulations of the waves are shimmering, 
a mass of liquid light. So in Hearn 's letters, treating the 
dullest subjects — writing to Chamberlain, for instance, on 
the subject of his health, and diet, and the storage of physi- 
cal and brain force, he suddenly breaks off, and takes up 
the subject of Buddhism and Shintoism. "There is, how- 
ever, a power, a mighty power, in tradition and race feel- 



ing. I can't remember now where I read a wonderful 
story about a Polish brigade under fire during the Franco- 
Prussian war.'* Then he tells the story in his own inimi- 
table way: *^The Polish brigade stood still under the 
infernal hail, cursed by its German officers for the least 
murmur, — * Silence! you Polish hogs!' while hundreds, 
thousands fell, but the iron order always was to wait. 
Men sobbed with rage. At last, old Steinmetz gave a sig- 
nal — the signal. The bugles rang out with the force of 
Roland's last blast at Roncesvalles, the air forbidden ever 
to be sung or heard at other times — the national air (you 
know it) — 'No! Poland is not dead!' And with that 
crash of brass all that lives of the brigade was hurled at 
the French batteries. Mechanical power, if absolutely irre- 
sistible, might fling back such a charge, but no human 
power. For old Steinmetz had made the mightiest appeal 
to those 'Polish brutes' that man, God, or devil could 
make, the appeal to the ghost of the Race. The dead heard 
it ; and they came back that day, — the dead of a thousand 

Or again, in his description of a chance hearing of the 
singing of "Auld Lang Syne" by Adelina Patti. He is 
writing in an ordinary strain on some everyday subject ; in 
the next paragraph an association of ideas, connected with 
ballad music, evokes the memory thus exquisitely re- 
counted : — 

** * Patti is going to sing at the St. Charles.' said a friend 
to me years ago. *I know you hate the theatre, but you 
must go.' (I had been surfeited with drama by old duty 
as a dramatic reporter, and had vowed not to enter a 
theatre again.) I went. There was a great dim pressure, 
a stifling heat, a whispering of silks, a weight of toilet- 
perfumes. Then came an awful hush ; all the silks stopped 
whispering. And there suddenly sweetened out through 
that dead, hot air a clear, cool, tense thread-gush of melody 



unlike any sound I had ever heard before save, in tropical 
nights, from the throat of a mocking-bird. It was *Auld 
Lang Syne, ' only, but with never a tremolo or. artifice ; a 
marvellous, audacious simplicity of utterance. The silver 
of that singing rings in my heart still. ' ' 

Amidst the numerous oscillations of his fancies and par- 
tialities, there were one or two writers to whom Hearn 
owned an unswerving allegiance. Pierre Loti, Herbert 
Spencer, and Rudyard Kipling were foremost among these. 
Even in spite of Loti's description of Japan and his treat- 
ment of Japanese ladies in ''Madame Chrysantheme, ' ' 
Hearn retained the same admiration for him to the end. 
*'0h! do read the divine Loti's 'Roman d'un Spahi.' No 
mortal critic, not even Jules Lemaitre or Anatole France, 
can explain that ineffable and superhuman charm. I hope 
you will have everything of Loti's. Some time ago, when 
I was afraid I might die, one of my prospective regrets 
was that I might not be able to read 'L'Inde san les 
Anglais.' . . ." 

Hearn had a wonderful memory — he could repeat pages 
of poetry even of the poets he declared he did not care 
for. In Japan, Mr. Mason told us that one evening at his 
house at Tokyo, when he was present, an argument was 
started on the subject of Browning. In reply to some one's 
criticisms on ' ' The Ring and the Book, ' ' Hearn, to verify 
a statement, repeated passage after passage from various 
poems of Browning in his soft musical voice. 

A member of the Maple Club also mentioned an occa- 
sion when the subject of Napoleon cropped up. A little 
man whom no one noticed at first sat apart listening. At 
last some one made a statement that roused him; the in- 
significant figure with prominent eyes bent forward and 
poured forth a flood of information on the subject under 
discussion so fluent, so accurate that the assembled company 
listened in amazement. 




Hearn's personal characteristics have often been de- 
scribed. In the biographies and collections of letters that 
have been given to the world, there are photographs of him 
from the time when he was a little boy in collegiate jacket 
and turned-down collar, to his last years in Japan, when 
he nationalised himself a Japanese and habitually wore the 
Japanese kimono. 

At New Orleans, past his thirtieth year, looked upon as 
a writer of promise by a cultured few, though not yet 
successful with the public, he was a much more responsible 
and important person that the little ** brownie" who used 
to sit in the corner of John Cockerill's office, turning out 
page after page of ''copy" for the Cincinnati Enquirer , 
or doing the *' night stations" for the Commercial. In 
later years, in consequence of his sedentary habits, he be- 
came corpulent and of stooping gait; at this time he was 
about five feet three inches in height, his complexion clear 
olive, his hair straight and black, his salient features a 
long, sharp, aquiline nose and prominent near-sighted eyes, 
the left one, injured at Ushaw, considerably more prominent 
than the other. In his sensitive, morbid fashion he greatly 
over-exaggerated the disfiguring effect this had on his per- 
sonal appearance. When engaged in conversation, he ha- 
bitually held his hand over it, and was always photo- 
graphed in profile looking down. 

In some ways the Hearn type was very visible, the square 
brow and well-shaped head and finely-modelled mouth and 
chin. He also inherited the delicate, filbert-nailed hands 
(always exquisitely kept) and the musical voice of his 
Celtic forbears. One of his pupils at Tokyo University 
speaks of the "voice of the old professor with one eye, 
and white hair, being as lovely as his words." Professor 
Foxwell who made his acquaintance in Japan, gives the 
following account of his personal manner in his delightful 
' ' Reminiscences of Laf cadio Hearn, ' ' read before the Japan 



Society in London: *'I had just recovered from small- 
pox when I first met Heam, and must have been an ex- 
traordinary object. My face, to begin with, was the colour 
of beetroot. Hearn took not the least notice ; seemed hardly 
to notice my appearance. This fact impressed me very 
much, and when I knew him better I found that the same 
wide tolerance of mind ran through all his thoughts and 
actions. It might have been tact, but nothing seemed to 
surprise him. It was as if he had lived too much to be 
surprised at anything. He seemed to me on that particular 
morning, and whenever I met him afterwards, to be the 
most natural, unaffected, companionable person I had ever 
come across. Secondly, I thought he was extraordinarily 
gentle, more gentle than a woman, since it was not a physi- 
cal gentleness, but a gentleness of thought. You noticed it 
in his tone, in his voice, in his manner. He had a mind 
which worked with velvet or gossamer touch. Thirdly, in 
spite of that softness and gentleness, he looked intensely 
male. You could see that in his eye, and you would feel 
it in the quiet mastery of every sentence. And fourthly, 
he seemed to be, unlike most foreigners, altogether at home 
in Japan. He appeared to have come into smooth water, 
placid and unconcerned. Yet I found him essentially Eu- 
ropean, in spite of his being so at home in Japan. You 
could see that from his very great fairness of complexion, 
tense ^cial expression, and delicate susceptibility. That 
was obvious. Then his nose settled it. It struck me at 
the time as curious that a foreigner so eager to interpret 
Japan should be himself so occidental in appearance. An- 
other point with regard to this first meeting : our acquaint- 
ance lasted for three years, but I do not think I knew him 
any better or any more at the end than I did at that first 
meeting. * ' 

Heam was as unconventional in his dress as in most 
things, deliberately protesting against social restrictions in 



his personal attire. Shy, diffident people, who above all 
things wish to avoid attracting attention, seem so often 
to forget that if they would only garb themselves like the 
rest of the world it would be the best disguise they could 
adopt. The jeers and laughter of the passers-by in the 
streets of Philadelphia, even the fact that a number of 
street gamins formed a queue, the leader holding by his 
coat-tails while they kept in step, singing, "Where, where 
did you get that hat?" had not any effect, Gould tells us, 
in inducing him to substitute conventional headgear for 
the enormous tropical straw hat, or the reefer coat and 
flannel shirt, that he habitually wore. 

Mr. Mason, in Japan, told us, that Hearn boasted of not 
having worn a starched shirt for twenty years. In fact, 
he looked upon white shirts as a proof of the greater facility 
of life in the East, where they don't wear white shirts, 
than the ease of life in the "West, where they do. ' ' Think 
for a moment," he says in one of his essays, *'how im- 
portant an article of occidental attire is the single costly 
item of white shirts! Yet even the linen shirt, the so- 
called 'badge of the gentleman,' is in itself a useless gar- 
ment. It gives neither warmth nor comfort. It repre- 
sents in our fashion the survival of something, once a 
luxurious class distinction, but to-day meaningless and use- 
less as the buttons sewn on the outside of coat-sleeves." 

In spite of the unconventionality of his garments, every 
one is unanimous as to Hearn 's radiant physical cleanli- 
ness, constantly bathing winter and summer and changing 
his clothes two or three times a day. His wife, in her 
"Reminiscences," mentions his fastidiousness on the sub- 
ject of underclothing. Everything was ordered from 
America, except his Japanese kimonos and "fudos." He 
paid high prices, and would have nothing that was not of 
the best make and quality. 

In later years he was described by an acquaintance in 



Japan as an odd, nondescript apparition, with near-sighted 
eyes, a soft, well-modulated voice, speaking several lan- 
guages easily, particularly dainty and clean in his person, 
and of considerable personal influence and charm when you 
came in contact with him. 




''The lady wore her souls as other women wear their dresses and 
change them several times a day; and the multitude of dresses in the 
wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth was as nothing to the multitude of this 
wonderful person's souls. Sometimes she was of the South, and her 
eyes were brown; and again she was of the North, and her eyes were 
grey. Sometimes she was of the thirteenth, and sometimes of the 
eighteenth century; and people doubted their own senses when they 
saw these things . . . and the men who most admired her could 
not presume to fall in love with her because that would hav« been 
absurd. She had altogether too many souls." 

The year 1882 was a memorable one for Laf cadio Hearn ; 
during the course of that winter the purest and most bene- 
ficent feminine influence that he had hitherto known en- 
tered his life, an influence destined to last for close on a 
quarter of a century, from these New Orleans days until the 
month of September, 1904, when he died. 

In all the annals of literary friendships between men and 
women, it is difficult to recall one more delightful or more 
wholly satisfactory than this, between Miss Elizabeth Bis- 
land (Mrs. Wetmore) and the strange little Irish genius. 

Many beautiful things has Lafcadio Hearn written, but 
none more tender, none more beautiful, than the story of 
his devotion and friendship, as told in his letters. 

The affection between Jean Jacques Ampere and Madame 
Eecamier is the one that perhaps most nearly approaches 
it. Here, however, the position is reversed. Madame Re- 
camier was a decade older than her admirer; Elizabeth 
Bisland was a decade younger. Yet there always seems 



to have been something maternal, protecting, in her affec- 
tion for this ''veritable blunderer in the ways of the world.'* 
Her comprehension, her pity, shielded and guarded him; 
into his wounded heart she poured the balm of affection 
and appreciation, soothing and healing the bruises given 
him in the tussle of life. 

Link by link we follow the sentiment that Lafcadio 
Hearn cherished for Miss Bisland, as it runs, an untarnished 
chain of gold, athwart his life. Through separation, 
through distances of thousands of miles, the unwavering 
understanding remained, a simple, definite, and dependa- 
ble thing, never at fault, except once or twice, when the 
clear surface was disturbed, apparently by the expression 
of too warm a sentiment on his side. 

*' There is one very terrible Elizabeth,'' he writes to Ell- 
wood Hendrik from Japan, in reference to Miss Bisland 's 
marriage to Mr. Wetmore, *'whom I had a momentary 
glimpse of once, and whom it will not be well for Mr. W. 
or anybody else to summon from her retirement. ' ' 

Time and again he returned to his friend as to his own 
purer, better self, though he seems to have had a pathetic, 
sad-hearted, clear-eyed conviction that her love — as love is 
understood in common parlance — could never be his. 

And she, doubtless, acknowledged there was something 
intangible and rare in the feeling she nourished for him 
that raised it above that of mere friendship. Whatever 
he had been, whatever he had done, she cared not ; she only 
knew that he had genius far above any of those amongst 
whom her lines had hitherto been cast, and, with tre- 
mendous odds against him, was offering up burnt-offerings 
on the altar of the shrine where she, as a neophyte, also 

Miss Elizabeth Bisland was the daughter of a Louisiana 
landowner, ruined, like many others, in the war. With 



the idea of aiding her family by the proceeds of her pen, 
the young girl quitted the seclusion of her parents' house 
in the country and bravely entered the arena of journalistic 
work in New Orleans. 

Hearn at that time was regularly working on the staff 
of the Times Democrat. The faithfulness of his transla- 
tions from the French, and the beauty of the style of some 
of his contributions, had found an appreciative circle in the 
Crescent City, and a clique had been formed of what were 
known as *' Hearn 's admirers." 

His translations from Gautier, Maupassant, ** Stray 
Leaves from Strange Literature," all appeared in the col- 
umns of Page Baker's newspaper. He also, under the title 
of ' ' Fantastics, " contributed every now and then slight 
sketches inspired by his French prototypes. Dreams, he 
called them, of a tropical city, with one twin idea running 
through them all — love and death. They gave him the 
gratification of expressing a thought that cried out within 
his heart for utterance, and the pleasant fancy that a few 
kindred minds would dream over them as upon pellets of 
green hashisch. 

One of these was inspired by Tennyson's verse — 

"My heart would hear her and beat 
Had I lain for a century dead; — 
Would start and tremble under her feet. 
And blossom in purple and red." 

The sketch appeared apparently in the columns of the 
Times Democrat. There Miss Bisland saw it, and in the 
enthusiasm of her seventeen years, wrote an appreciative 
letter to the author. By chance the ''Fantastic" was re- 
covered from his later correspondence. Writing to 
Mitchell McDonald years afterwards in Japan, we find 
Hearn referring to the expression ''Lentor Inexpressible." 
**I am going to change 'Lentor Inexpressible,' which you 



did not like. I send you a copy of the story in which I 
first used it — years and years ago. Don 't return the thing 
— it has had its day. It belongs to the Period of Gush. ' ' 

Mitchell McDonald, we imagine, obeyed his injunction, 
and did not return the ** Fantastic," but laid it away 
amongst his papers, and so **A Dead Love" has been saved 
for re-publication. It certainly is crude enough to deserve 
the designation of belonging to the * ' Period of Gush, ' ' and 
is distinguished by all the weakness and none of the 
strength of the French Impressionist school. 

The idea of the spirit conquering material obstacles, a 
longing for the unattainable, the exceptional in life and na- 
ture, to the extent even of continued sensibility after death, 
are phases of thought that permeate every line, and may 
be found in two of Gautier's stories translated by Hearn, 
and in several of Baudelaire's poems. 

A young man weary of life because of the hopelessness 
of his love, yielded it up at last, dying with the name of 
the beloved on his lips. . . . Yet the repose of the dead 
was not for him; even in the tomb the phantom man 
dreamed of life, and strength, and joy, and the litheness 
of limbs to be loved : also of that which had been and of that 
which now could never be. . . . Years came and went 
with *'Lentor Inexpressible," but for the dead there was 
no rest . . . the echoes of music and laughter, the 
chanting and chattering of children at play, and the liquid 
babble of the beautiful brown women floated to his ears. 
And at last it came to pass that the woman whose name 
had been murmured by his lips when the shadow of death 
fell upon him, visited the ancient place of sepulture, he 
recognised the sound of her footstep, the rustle of her gar- 
ments, knew the sweetness of her presence, but she, uncon- 
scious, passed by, and the sound of her footsteps died away 

Hearn, at the time he first met Elizabeth Bisland, was 



going through a period of depression about his work, and 
a hatred of New Orleans. The problem of existence, he 
said, stared him in the face with eyes of iron. Inde- 
pendence was so hard to obtain; there was no scope for a 
man who preserved freedom of thought and action— ab- 
solute quiet, silence, dreams, friends in the evening, a pipe, 
a little philosophy, was his idea of perfect bliss. As he 
was situated at the time, he could not obtain even a woman's 
society, he complained, unless he buried himself in the 
mediocrity to which she belonged. 

Twenty years later, writing to Mrs. Wetmore (as Miss 
Elizabeth Bisland had become), he refers to those first 
years of friendship in the strange old city of New Orleans. 
He recalls to her memory her dangerous illness, and peo- 
ple's fear that she might die in the quaint little hotel 
where she was stopping. Impossible, he said, to think of 
that young girl as a grey-haired woman of forty. His 
memory was of a voice and a thought, une jeune fille un peu 
farouche (no English word could give the same sense of 
shyness and force), ''who came into New Orleans from the 
country, and wrote nice things for a paper there, and was 
so kind to a particular variety of savage, that he could not 
understand — and was afraid." But all this was long ago, 
he concludes regretfully; "since then I have become grey 
and the father of three boys." 

For the greater part of Lafcadio Hearn's and Elizabeth 
Bisland 's friendship they seem to have occupied towards 
one another the position of literary brother and sister. 
From the very beginning he tried to induce her to share 
his literary enthusiasm. With that odd social unconven- 
tionality that distinguished him, he endeavoured to make 
this young girl of eighteen sympathise with his admiration 
of the artistic beauties of Flaubert and Gautier. Sending 
a volume of Gautier 's poems, he writes: "I won't pre- 
sume to offer you this copy; it is too shabby, has travelled 



about with me in all sorts of places for eight years. But 
if you are charmed by this 'parfait magicien des lettres 
frangaises' (as Beaudelaire called him) I hope to have the 
pleasure of offering you a nicer copy. . . . ' * 

Years afterwards he refers to literary obligations that 
he owed her, mentioning evening chats in her New York 
flat, when the sound of her voice, low and clear, and at 
times like a flute, was in his ear. **The gods only know 
what I said; for my thoughts in those times were seldom 
in the room — but in the future, which was black without 

In 1884 Hearn went to Grande Isle, in the Archipelago 
of the Gulf, for his summer holiday. Miss Bisland would 
appear to have been there at the same time, yet with that 
half-tamed, barbaric, incomprehensible nature of his, his 
fancy seems to have been turned rather towards the copper- 
coloured ladies of Barataria. ' ' A beauty that existed in the 
Tertiary epoch — three hundred thousand years ago. The 
beauty of the most ancient branch of humanity. ' ^ 

It was during this visit to Grande Isle that the story of 
** Chita" was written and contributed to Harper's Magazine 
under the title of ''Torn Letters." 

We know not at what date Miss Bisland left New Or- 
leans to go to New York. One thing only is certain, that 
so firm a spiritual hold had she taken of Lafcadio Hearn 's 
genius that no distance of space nor spite of circumstance 
could separate her intellect from his. Like a delicious 
and subtle perfume, wafted from some garden close, her 
presence meets you as you pass from letter to letter in 
his correspondence; from chapter to chapter of his 
books. Far or near, dear to her or indifferent, the 
memory of her smile and the light of her eyes were hence- 
forth his best inspiration. Thousands of miles away 
in the Far East it stimulated his genius and quickened 
his pen. 



I, who had the privilege of meeting the "Lady of a 
Myriad Souls" when she visited England a short time ago, 
could not help marvelling, as I looked at her, and talked 
to her, dainty and beautiful as she was in lace and dia- 
monds, at the irony of the dictates of fate, or Karma (as 
he, Buddhist-wise, would have called it), that had ordained 
that hers was to be the ascendant influence in the life of 
Laf cadio Hearn — ^the Bohemian, who, by his own confession, 
had for a decade never dressed for dinner, or put on a 
starched collar or shirt front. 

In New York Miss Bisland became joint-editor of a mag- 
azine called the Cosmopolitan, and after Hearn 's arrival 
in June, 1887, a frequent correspondence was kept up be- 
tween them on literary matters. 

She solicited contributions, apparently, and he answered : 
**I don't think I can write anything clever enough to ba 
worthy your using. But it is a pleasure you should think so. 
. . . My work, however weak, is so much better than 
myself that the less said about me the better. . . . Your 
own personality has charm enough to render the truth very 
palatable. . . . Does a portrait of an ugly man make 
one desirous to read his books ? 

* * . . . I will try to give you something for the Christ- 
mas number anyhow, but not very long. ' ' He then goes on 
to set forth a theory that seems at this time rather to have 
influenced his literary output. "With the nineteenth cen- 
tury, he believed that the long novel would pass out of 
existence ; three-quarters of what was written was unneces- 
sary, evolved simply out of obedience to effete formulas 
and standards. The secret of the prose fiction *Hhat lives 
through the centuries, like the old Greek romances, is con- 
densation, the expression of feeling in a few laconic 
sentences. . . . No descriptions, no preliminaries, no 
explanation — ^nothing but the feeling itself at highest in- 
tensity." As is so often the case, this opinion expressed 



in a letter is a running commentary on the work he was 
doing at the moment. * ' Chita, ' ' the longest work of fiction 
he ever attempted, had appeared serially in Harper's Mag- 
azine, and he was occupied in reconstructing it in book 
form. It certainly has feeling at highest intensity and 
no diffuseness, but it lacks the delicate touches, the indica- 
tions of character by small incidents, and realistic details, 
that render Pierre Loti's novels, for instance, so vividly 
actual and accurate. It is strong to the highest emotional 
pitch, and some of the descriptions are marvellous, but the 
book gives the impression of being fragmentary and un- 

After two years of exclusive intellectual communion and 
discussion of literary matters between Lafcadio Hearn and 
Miss Bisland, he suddenly, writing from Philadelphia, de- 
clares his intention of never addressing her as Miss Bisland 
again except upon an envelope. 

* ^ It is a formality — and you are you ; and you are not a 
formality — but a somewhat — and I am only I. " ^ 

After this the personal note becomes predominant, and 
Miss Bisland ceases, even on paper, to be a formality in 
Lafcadio Hearn 's emotional life. 

During the course of the same summer, Hearn went to 
the West Indies for his three months' midsummer trip. 
From thence he wrote one or tvro delightful letters to the 
Lady of a Myriad Souls. In the same year he was again 
in New York, but almost immediately accepted an offer 
made to him by the Harpers to return to the West Indies 
for two years. 

The following letter tells its own tale, and so daintily 
and pathetically that one does not feel as if one could 
change a word : — 

1 "The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn," Houghton, MifHin 
& Co. 



*^Your letter reached me when everything that had 
seemed solid was breaking up, and Substance had become 
Shadow. It made me very foolish — ^made me cry. Your 
rebuke for the trivial phrase in my letter was very beau- 
tiful as well as very richly deserved. But I don't think 
it is a question of volition. It is necessary to obey the 
impulses of the Unknown for Art's sake, — or rather, you 
miist obey them. The Spahi's fascination by the invisible 
forces was purely physical. I think I am right in going; 
perhaps I am wrong in thinking of making the tropics a 
home. Probably it will be the same thing over again: 
impulse and chance compelling another change. 

*'The carriage — ^no, the New York hack and hackman 
(no romance or sentimentality about these!) is waiting to 
take me to Pier 49 East River. So I must end. But I 
have written such a ridiculous letter that I shan't put any- 
body 's name to it. " ^ 

In 1889 he again returned to America, and went for 
his famous visit to George Milbury Gould at Philadel- 

On November 14th of the same year Miss Bisland re- 
ceived a request to call at the office of the Cosmopolitan 
Magazine. On her arrival at eleven o'clock in the morn- 
ing, she was asked if she would leave New York for San 
Francisco the same evening for a seventy-five days' jour- 
ney round the world. The proposition was that she should 
**run" in competition with another lady sent by a rival 
magazine for a wager. Miss Bisland consented. 

After her return, under the title of '*A Trip Around 
the World," she published her experiences in the Cosmo- 
politan Magazine. These contributions were afterwards in- 
corporated in a small volume. They are charmingly and 
brightly written. She, however, did not win her wager, 

i"The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn," Houghton, MiflSin 
& Co. 



as the other lady completed the task in a slightly shorter 

Before he knew of the projected journey, Lafcadio wrote 
to tell her that he had had a queer dream. A garden with 
high clipped hedges, in front of a sort of country house 
with steps leading down and everywhere hampers and 
baskets. Krehbiel was there, starting for Europe, never to 
return. He could not remember what anybody said pre- 
cisely, voices were never audible in dreams. 

In his next letter he alludes to his imaginings. **So it 
was you and not I, that was to run away. . . . When 
I saw the charming notice about you in the Tribune there 
suddenly came back to me the same vague sense of un- 
happiness I had dreamed of feeling, — an absurd sense of 
absolute loneliness. ... I and my friends have been 
wagering upon you hoping for you to win your race — so 
that every one may admire you still more, and your name 
flash round the world quicker than the sunshine, and your 
portrait — in spite of you — appear in some French journal 
where they know how to engrave portraits properly. I 
thought I might be able to coax one from you ; but as you 
are never the same person two minutes in succession, I am 
partly consoled; it would only be one small phase of you, 
Proteus, Circe, Undine, Djineeyeh! . . .'* 

I do not think that amidst all the letters of poets or 
writers there are any more original or passionately poignant 
than the last two or three of the series in Miss Bisland^s 
first volume of Hearn's letters. It seems almost like tear- 
ing one of Heine's Lyrics to pieces to endeavour to give the 
substance of these fanciful and exquisite outpourings in 
any words but his own. Again and again he recurs to Ms 
favourite idea of the multiplicity of souls. Turn by turn, 
he says, one or other of the **dead within her'* floats up 
from the depth within, transfiguring her face. 

**It seems to me that all those mysterious lives within 



you — all the Me's that were — keep asldng the Me that is, 
for something always refused ; — and that you keep saying 
to them : ' But you are dead and cannot see — you can only 
feel; and I can see, — and I will not open to you, because 
the world is all changed. You would not know it, and 
you would be angry with me were I to grant your wish. 
Go to your places, and sleep and wait, and leave me in 
peace with myself. ' But they continue to wake up betimes, 
and quiver into momentary visibility to make you divine 
in spite of yourself, — and as suddenly flit away again. I 
wish one would come — and stay : the one I saw that night 
when we were looking at . . . what was it? 

** Really, I can't remember what it was : the smile effaced 
the memory of it, — just as a sun-ray blots the image from 
a drj^-plate suddenly exposed. . . . Will you ever be 
like that always for any one being? — I hope you will get 
my book before you go ; it will be sent on Tuesday at latest, 
I think. I don't know whether you will like the paper; 
but you will only look for the 'gnat of a soul' that belongs 
to me between the leaves." 

Soon after the return of the lady of his dreams from 
her ' ' trip around the world, ' ' Hearn left for the Far East, 
where he lived for the rest of his days. He wrote to her 
once or twice after his arrival in Japan, and then a long, 
long interval intervened. He married a Japanese lady, 
and she married Mr. Wetmore. 

Not until 1900 were all the long estranging years that 
lay between the time when he had last seen her in New 
York and the period of his professorship at a Japanese 
college forgotten, and he fell back on the simple human 
affection of their early intercourse. No longer did he think 
of her as the rich, beautiful, fashionable woman, but as 
the jeune fille un peu farouche, who in distant New Or- 
leans days had understood and expressed a belief in his 
genius with all a girl's unsophisticated enthusiasm. She 



had written to him, and he gives her a whimsically pathetic 
answer, touching on memories, on thoughts, on aspirations, 
which had been a closed book for so long a period of time, 
and now, when re-opened, was seen to be printed as clearly 
on mind and heart as if he had parted with her but an hour 

About a dozen letters succeed one another, and in Sep- 
tember, 1904 — the month in which he died — comes his 
last. He tells her that to see her handwriting again, upon 
the familiar blue envelope, was a great pleasure; except 
that the praise she lavished upon him was undeserved. 
He then refers to the dedication of the "Japanese Mis- 
cellany" which he had made to her. "The book is not 
a bad book in its way, and perhaps you will later on find 
no reason to be sorry for your good opinions of the writer. 
I presume that you are far too clever to believe more 
than truth, and I stand tolerably well in the opinion of 
a few estimable people in spite of adverse tongues and 
pens. . . ." 

He then tells her that the "Eejected Addresses," the 
name in writing to her he had given to "Japan, an Inter- 
pretation," would shortly appear in book form. . . . 
"I don't like the idea of writing a serious treatise on so- 
ciology ; I ought to keep to the study of birds and cats and 
insects and flowers, and queer small things — and leave the 
subject of the destiny of Empires to men of brains. Un- 
fortunately, the men of brains will not state the truth 
as they see it. If you find any good in the book, despite 
the conditions under which it was written, you will recog- 
nise your share in the necessarily ephemeral value thereof. 

"May all good things ever come to you, and abide." 

It is said by many, especially those who knew Hearn in 
later years, that he was heartless, capricious, incapable of 
constancy to any affection or sentiment, and yet, set forth 
so that all ' ' who run may read, ' ' is this record of a devotion 



and friendship, cherished for a quarter of a century, last- 
ing intact through fair years and foul, through absence, 
change of scene, even of nationality. 

"Fear not, I say again; believe it true 
That not as men mete shall I measure you. . . ." 

Time, besides his scythe and hour-glass, carries an ac- 
curate gauge for the estimation of human character and 




"For the Buddha of the deeper Buddhism is not Gautama, nor yet 
any one Tathagata, but simply the divine in man. Chrysalides of the 
infinite we all are: each contains a ghostly Buddha, and the millions 
are but one. All humanity is potentially the Buddha-to-come, dream- 
ing through the ages in Illusion; and the teacher's smile will make 
beautiful the world again when selfishness shall die. Every noble 
sacrifice brings the hour of his awakening; and who may justly 
doubt — remembeiing the myriads of the centuries of man — that even 
now there does not remain one place on earth where life has not been 
freely given for love or duty?" 

Though some years were yet to elapse before Hearn re- 
ceived his definite marching orders, each halt was but a 
bivouac nearer the field of operations where effective work 
and fame awaited him. 

**Have wild theories about Japan/' he writes propheti- 
cally to Mr. Watkin. ** Splendid field in Japan — a climate 
just like England — perhaps a little milder. Plenty of Eu- 
ropean and English newspapers. . . /' And again, **I 
have half a mind to study medicine in practical earnest, 
for as a doctor I may do well in Japan.'' 

When the New Orleans Exposition was opened in 1885, 
Harpers, the publishers — ^who had already sent Hearn on 
a tour in Florida with an artist of their staff — now made 
an arrangement with him, by which he was to supply de- 
scriptive articles, varied by sketches and drawings, copied 
from photographs, of the principal exhibits. 

On January 3rd, Hearn 's first article appeared in Ear- 
per's Weekly, In it he describes the fans, the kakemonos y 



the screens in the Japanese department. Long lines of 
cranes flying against a vermilion sky, a flight of gulls 
sweeping through the golden light of a summer morning; 
the heavy, eccentric, velvety flight of bats under the moon ; 
the fairy hovering of moths, of splendid butterflies; the 
modelling and painting of animal forms, the bronzed tor- 
toises, crabs, storks, frogs, not mere copies of nature, but 
exquisite idealisations stirred his artistic sense as did also 
the representations of the matchless mountain Fuji-no- 
yama — of which the artist, Houkousai, alone drew one hun- 
dred different views, on fans, behind rains of gold, athwart 
a furnace of sunset, or against an immaculate blue bur- 
nished by some wizard dawn, exhaling from its mimic 
crater a pillar of incense smoke, towering above stretches 
of vineyards and city-speckled plains, or perchance be- 
girdled by a rich cloud of silky shifting tints, like some 
beauty of Yoshiwara. 

It seems almost as if he already saw the light of the 
distant dreamy world and the fairy vapours of morning, 
and the marvellous wreathing of clouds, and heard the pil- 
grims ' clapping of hands, saluting the mighty day in Shinto 
prayer, as a decade later he saw, and heard, when he as- 
cended Fuji-no-yama. 

A year after the exposition, Hearn made the acquaint- 
ance of a young Lieutenant Crosby. Young Crosby was a 
native of Louisiana, educated at West Point, stationed at 
the time with his regiment at New Orleans. He was a per- 
son, apparently, of considerable culture. He and Hearn 
frequented the same literary circles. Interest in science 
and philosophy was as wide-spread in America as in Eu- 
rope during the course of last century. 

One day Crosby lent his new acquaintance Herbert 
Spencer's ''First Principles." In his usual vehement, im- 
pressionable way Hearn immediately accepted all the 



tenets, all the conclusions arrived at. And from that day 
began what only can be called an intellectual idolatry for 
the colourless analytic English philosopher that lasted till 
his death. 

The terms in which he alludes to him are superexag- 
gerated: ''the greatest mind that this world has yet pro- 
duced — the mind that systematised all human knowledge, 
that revolutionised modern science, that dissipated materi- 
alism forever . . . the mind that could expound with 
equal lucidity, and by the same universal formula, the his- 
tory of a gnat or the history of a sun.'^ 

Always excisable in argument, he would not be gain- 
said, and indeed at various periods of his life, when people 
ventured to doubt the soundness of some of Spencer's con- 
clusions, Hearn would not only refuse to discuss the sub- 
ject, but henceforth abstained from holding communication 
with the offending individual. 

**A memory of long ago ... I am walking upon a 
granite pavement that rings like iron, between buildings 
of granite bathed in the light of a cloudless noon. . . . 
Suddenly, an odd feeling comes to me, with a sort of ting- 
ling shock, — a feeling, or suspicion, of universal illusion. 
The pavement, the bulks of hewn stone, the iron rails, and 
all things visible, are dreams ! Light, colour, form, weight, 
solidity — all sensed existences — are but phantoms of being, 
manifestations only of one infinite ghostliness for which 
the language of man has not any word. . . ." 

This experience had been produced, he says, by the study 
of the first volume of Spencer's "Synthetic Philosophy," 
which an American friend had taught him how to read. 
Very cautious and slow his progress was, like that of a 
man mounting for the first time a long series of ladders 
in darkness. Reaching the light at last, he caught a sudden 
new view of things — a momentary perception of the illu- 
sion of surfaces, — and from that time the world never 



again appeared to him quite the same as it had appeared 

It is a noteworthy fact that, though the mid- Victorian 
scientists and philosophers were in the zenith of their in- 
fluence when Hearn was in London, twenty years before 
these New Orleans days, he never seems to have taken an 
interest in their speculations or theories. We, of the pres- 
ent generation, can hardly realise the excitement created 
by the new survey of the Cosmos put forth by Darwin and 
his adherents. Old forms of thought crumbled; the con- 
tinuity of life was declared to have been proved; lower 
forms were raised and their kinship with the higher demon- 
strated; man was deposed and put back into the sequence 
of nature. Hardly a decade elapsed before the enthusiasm 
began to wane. Some of Darwin's adherents endeavoured 
to initiate what they called a scientific philosophy, at- 
tempting to prove more than he did. Herbert Spencer, in 
his "Principles of Ethics,'* when dealing with the incep- 
tion of moral consciousness, appealed to the **Time Proc- 
ess,'* to the enormous passage of the years, to explain the 
generation of sen tier cy, and ultimately, moral conscious- 
ness. **Out of the units of single sensations, older than 
we by millions of years, have been built up all the emo- 
tions and faculties of man," echoes his disciple, Lafcadio 
Hearn. Spencer also put forward the view, from which 
he ultimately withdrew, that natural selection tended to- 
wards higher conditions, or, as he termed it, "Equilibra- 
tion, ' ' — a state in which all struggle had ceased, and from 
which all disturbing influences, passion, love, happiness 
and fear were eliminated. 

These statements were contested by Darwin and Huxley, 
both declaring that evolution manifested a sublime indif- 
ference to the pains or pleasures of man ; evil was as natural 
as good and had been as efficacious a factor in helping for- 
ward the progress of the world. 



In his celebrated Romanes lecture of 1893 on the sub- 
ject of ** Nature and Evolution," Huxley turned the search- 
light of his analytical intellect on Buddha's theories with 
regard to Karma and the ultimate progress of man towards 
the perfect life, and effectually, so far as his opiuion was 
concerned, demolished any possible reconciliation between 
Buddhism and science. ''The end of life's dream is Nir- 
vana. What Nirvana is, the learned do not agree, but 
since the best original authorities tell us there is neither 
desire, nor activity, nor any possibility of phenomenal re- 
appearance, for the sage who has entered Nirvana, it may 
be safely said of this acme of Buddhist philosophy — 'the 
rest is silence ! ' " 

It is plain, therefore, that the two points of contact upon 
"which Hearn, in his attempted reconciliation between 
Buddhism and modern science laid most stress, were dis- 
proved by leading scientists even before he had read Spen- 
cer's "First Principles" at New Orleans in 1886, and it 
is disconcerting to find him using his deftness in the manip- 
ulation of words, to reconcile statements of Huxley's and 
Darwin's with his own wishes. His statement, indeed, that 
the right of a faith to live is only to be proved by its pos- 
sible reconciliation with natural and scientific facts, proves 
how little fitted he was to expound natural science. 

Long before he went to Japan, he had been interested 
in oriental religion and ethics. But his Buddhism was 
really only a vague, poetical theory, as was his Christianity. 
"When I write God, of course I mean only the World- 
Soul, the mighty and sweetest life of Nature, the great 
Blue Ghost, the Holy Ghost which fills planets and hearts 
with beauty." The deeper Buddhism, he affirmed, was 
only the divine in man. 

Bruised and buffeted in the struggle for existence, it is 
easy to imagine the attraction that the Buddhist ideal of 
discipline and self-effacement would exercise over a mind 



such as his. Shortly after his arrival in Japan, standing 
opposite the great Dai Batsu with its picturesque surround- 
ings in the garden at Kamakura, he was carried away by 
the ideal of calm, of selflessness that it embodied. 

It has generally been taken for granted that he died a 
Buddhist ; he emphatically declared, during the last year of 
his life, that he subscribed to no Buddhistical tenets. 

Invariably the best critic of his own nature — ^ ' Truly we 
have no permanent opinions, ' ' he writes, ' ' until our mental 
growth is done. The opinions we have are simply lent us 
for awhile by the gods — at compound interest!" 

There is a characteristic anecdote told of him by a cousin 
who went to visit him when a boy at Ushaw. He asked her 
to bow to the figure of the Virgin Mary, which stood upon 
the stairway. She refused, upon which he earnestly re- 
peated his request. Shortly after this incident he volun- 
teered the statement to one of the college tutors, who found 
him lying on his back in the grass, looking up at the sky, 
that he was a pantheist. 

After he had been reading some of the Russian novelists, 
though he confessed to a world of romance in old Roman- 
ism, the Greek Church, he thought, had a better chance of 
life. Russia seemed the coming race, a Russian Mass 
would one day be sung in St. Peter's, and Cossack soldiers 
would wait at Stamboul in the reconsecrated Basilica of 
Justinian for the apparition of that phantom priest destined 
to finish the Mass, interrupted by the swords of the Jani- 
zaries of Mahomet II. 

In spite of frequently declaring himself a radical, the 
trend of Hearn's mind was distinctly conservative. Old 
beliefs handed down from century to century, old temples 
sanctified for generations, old emotions that had moulded 
the life of the people, had for him supreme attraction. 
When he arrived at Matsue and found an Arcadian state 
of things, a happy, contented, industrious people, and an 



artistic development of a remarkable kind, the girl he mar- 
ried, also, Setsu Koizumi, having been brought up in the 
tenets of the ancient faith, it was a foregone conclusion 
that he should endeavour to harmonise Shintoism and 
Buddhism with the philosophy propounded by his high- 
priest, Herbert Spencer. Following the lead of his master, 
he committed himself to the statement that ** ancestor wor- 
ship was the root of all religion/' Cut off from commu- 
nication with outside opinion, he did not know how hotly 
this idea had been contested, Frederic Harrison, amongst 
others, asserting that the worship of natural objects — not 
spirit or ancestor worship — was the beginning of the re- 
ligious sentiment in man. 

It was of the nature of Hearn's mind that he should 
have taken up and clung to this Spencerian idea of ghost- 
cult, the religion of the dead. From his earliest child- 
hood the *' ghostly" had always haunted him. Even the 
name of the Holy Ghost as taught him in his childish 
catechism was invested with a vague reverential feeling of 
uncanny, ghostly influences. When therefore in the *' Syn- 
thetic Philosophy" he found Spencer declaring that ances- 
tor worship, the influence of spirits or ghosts, was the 
foundation of all religion, he subscribed to the same idea. 
**The real religion of Japan," he says in his essay on the 
ancient cult, **the religion still professed in one form or 
other by the entire nation, is that cult which has been the 
foundation of all civilised religion and of all civilised 
society, 'Ancestor worship.' Patriotism belongs to it, filial 
power depends upon it, family love is rooted in it, loyalty 
is based upon it. The soldier who, to make a path for 
his comrades through the battle, deliberately flings away 
his life with a shout of 'Teikoku manzai' (Empire, good- 
bye), obeys the will and fears the approval of ghostly wit- 

Mr. Robert Young, editor of the Japan Chronicle, and 




Mr. W. B. Mason, who both of them have lived in Japan 

for many years, keen observers of Japanese characteristics 
and tendencies, in discussing the value of Hearn's books as 
expositions of the country, were unanimous in declaring 
that he greatly overestimated the influence of ancestor 

The Japanese, like all gallant people, foster a deep 
reverence for their heroic ancestors. Secluded from the 
rest of the world for centuries, all their hero-worship had 
been devoted to their own nationality ; but practical, hard- 
headed, material-minded, pushing forward in every direc- 
tion, grasping the necessities that the competitive struggle 
of modern civilisation has forced upon them, keeping in 
the van by every means inculcated by cleverness and 
shrewdness — arguing by analogy, it is not likely that a 
people, living intensely in the present, clutching at every 
opportunity as it passes, would nourish a feeling such as 
Hearn describes for ''millions long buried" — for ''the 
nameless dead.'^ 

Nature worship, the worship of the sun, that gave its 
name to the ancient kingdom, the natural phenomena of 
their volcanic mountains Fuji-no-yama or Asama-yama, in- 
spired feelings of reverence in the ancient Japanese far 
more potent than any idea connected with their ' ' ancestral 

In Shinto there is no belief in the passage of "mind 
essence" from form to form, as in Buddhism; the spirits 
of the dead, according to the most ancient Japanese re- 
ligion, continue to exist in the world, they mingle with the 
viewless forces of Nature and act through them, still sur- 
rounding the living, expecting daily offerings and prayers. 
What a charm and mysticism is imparted to all the literary 
work done by Hearn in Japan by the Shinto idea of an- 
cestral ghosts, which he really seems for a time to have 
adopted, woven into the Buddhist belief in pre-existence, 



the continuity of mind connected again with the scientific 
theory of evolution. 

**He stands and proclaims his mysteries," says an 
American critic, *'at the meeting of Three Ways. To the 
religious instinct of India, — Buddhism in particular, — 
which history has engrafted on the aesthetic heart of Japan, 
Hearn brings the interpreting spirit of Occidental science ; 
and these three traditions are fused by the peculiar sym- 
pathies of his mind into one rich and novel compound, — a 
compound so rare as to have introduced into literature a 
pyschological sensation unknown before. More than any 
other living author he has added a new thrill to our intel- 
lectual experience," 

When at Tokyo, if you find your way into the street 
called Naka-dori, where ancient curios and embroideries 
are to be bought — you will perchance be shown a wonderful 
fabric minutely intersected with delicate traceries on a 
dark-coloured texture. If you are accompanied by any one 
who is acquainted with ancient Japanese embroidery, they 
will show you that these traceries are fine Japanese ideo- 
graphs; poems, proverbs, legends, embroidered by the lay- 
ing on of thread by thread all over the tissue, producing 
a most harmonious and beautiful effect. Thus did Hearn, 
like these ancient artificers, weave ancient theories of pre- 
existence and Karma into spiritual fantasies and imagina- 
tions. Ever in consonance with wider interests his work 
opened up strange regions of dreamland, touched trains 
of thought that run far beyond the boundaries of men's 
ordinary mental horizon. In his sketch, for instance, 
called the * ' Mountain of Skulls, ' ' ^ how weirdly does he 
make use of the idea of pre-existence. A young man and 
his guide are pictured climbing up a mountain, where was 
no beaten path, the way lying over an endless heaping of 
tumbled fragments. 

1 "In Ghostly Japan," Little, Brown & Co. 



Under the stars they climbed, aided by some superhuman 
power, and as they climbed the fragments under their feet 
yielded with soft dull crashings. . . . And once the 
pilgrim youth laid hand on something smooth that was not 
stone — and lifted it — and was startled by the cheekless gibe 
of death. 

In his inimitable way, Hearn tells how the dawn breaks, 
casting a light on the monstrous measureless height round 
them. ''All of these skulls and dust of bones, my son, are 
your own!" says his guide. ''Each has at some time been 
the nest of your dreams and delusions and desires." 

The Buddhist idea of pre-existence has been believed in 
by orientals from time immemorial; in the Sacontala the 
Indian poet, Calidas, says : ' ' Perhaps the sadness of men, 
in seeing beautiful forms and hearing sweet music, arises 
from some remembrance of past joys, and the traces of 
connections in a former state of existence." The idea has 
been re-echoed by many in our own time, but by none 
more exquisitely and fancifully than by Lafcadio Hearn. 

In one of his sketches, entitled, "A Serenade," his 
prose is the essence of music, weird and pathetic as a noc- 
turne by Chopin; setting thrilling a host of memories 
and dreams, suggesting hints and echoes of ineffable 
things. You feel the violet gloom, the warm air, and see 
the fire-flies, the plumes of the palms, and the haunting 
circle of the sea beyond, the silence only broken by the 
playing of flutes and mandolines. 

''The music hushed, and left me dreaming and vainly 
trying to explain the emotion that it had made. Of one 
thing only I felt assured, — that the mystery was of other 
existences than mine. ' ' ^ 

Then he brings forward the favourite theme, that our 
living present is the whole dead past. Our pleasures and 
our pains alike are but products of evolution — created by 

1 "Exotics and Retrospectives," Little, Brown & Co. 



experiences of vanished being more countless than the 
sands of a myriad seas. . . . Echoing into his own 
past, he imagines the music startling from their sleep of 
ages countless buried loves, the elfish ecstasy of their 
thronging awakening endless remembrance, and with that 
awakening the delight passed, and in the dark the sadness 
only lingered — unutterable — profound. 




"Ah! the dawnless glory of tropic morning! The single sudden 
leap of the giant light over the purpling of a hundred peaks, — over 
the surging of the Mornes! and the early breezes from the hills — all 
cool out of the sleep of the forest, . . . and the wild high winds 
that run roughling and crumpling through the cane of the mountain 
slopes in storms of papery sound. And the mighty dreaming of the 
woods, — ^green drenched with silent pouring of creepers . . . and 
the eternal azure apparition of the all-circling sea. . . . And the 
violet velvet distances of evening, and the swaying of palms against 
the orange-burning sunset, — when all the heavens seem filled with 
vapours of a molten sun!" 

In the early part of June, 1887, Hearn left New Or- 
leans, and made his way to New York via Cincinnati. 
He went to see no one in the western city, where he had 
been so well known, but his old friend Mr. Watkin. 
Seated in the printing-office, then situated at 26, Long- 
worth Street, they chatted together all day to the accom- 
paniment of the ticking of the tall clock, loud and insistent, 
like the footstep of a man booted and spurred. We can 
imagine their discussions and arguments on the subject 
of Herbert Spencer and Darwin, Esoteric Buddhism, and 
''that which the Christian calls soul, — the Pantheist Na- 
ture, — the philosopher, the Unknowable." 

Hearn took his departure from Cincinnati late in the 
evening. A delightful trip, he wrote to Mr. Watkin, had 
brought him safe and sound to New York, where his dear 
friend, Krehbiel, was waiting to receive him and take 
him as a guest to his cosy home. *'I cannot tell you,'' he 



adds, "how our little meeting delighted me, or how much 
I regretted to depart so soon. ... I felt that I loved 
you more than I ever did before; feel also how much I 
owed you and will always owe you." 

Mr. Watkin, who died in the spring of 1911, aged eighty- 
six, spent the last years of his life in the *'01d Men's 
Home" in Cincinnati. I received a letter from him a 
few months before his death relating to his friend Lafcadio 
Hearn. After this meeting in 1887, he was never fated 
to see his ''Raven," but the old man kept religiously all 
the letters written to him by the odd little genius, who 
forty years before had so often sat with him in his print- 
ing-office, pouring forth his hopes and ambitions, his 
opinions and beliefs, his wild revolts and despairs. Loy- 
ally did the old printer add his voice to Krehbiel's and 
Tunison's in defence of his reputation after Hearn 's death 
in 1904. 

The Krehbiels lived in a flat, 438, West Fifty-seventh 
Street, New York, and Lafcadio had arranged to stop with 
them there before he left New Orleans. 

Krehbiel's position as musical critic to the Tribune ne- 
cessitated his frequenting busy literary and social circles; 
it is easy to imagine how Hearn, just arrived from the 
easy-going, loafing life of New Orleans, must have suf- 
fered in such a milieu. 

Gould, in his ''Biography," notes with "sorrow and 
pain" that Hearn 's letters to Krehbiel suddenly ceased 
in 1887. "One may be sure," he adds, "that it was not 
Krehbiel who should be blamed." Without blaming either 
Krehbiel or Hearn, it is easy to see many reasons for the 
break-off of the close communion between the friends. 
For a person of Hearn 's temperament, innumerable sunken 
rocks beset the waters in which he found himself in New 
York City. Before starting on his journey thither he told 
Krehbiel that the idea of mixing in society in a great 



metropolis was a horrible nightmare, that he had been a 
demophobe for years, hating crowds and the heterogeneous 
acquaintances of ordinary city life. *'Here I visit a few 
friends for months, then disappear for six. Can 't help it ; 
— just a nervous condition that renders effort unpleasant. 
So I shall want to be very well hidden away in New York, 
— to see no one except you and Joe. ' ' 

It was hardly a prudent step on Krehbiel's part to 
subject this sensitive, excitable spirit to so great a trial of 
temper as caging him in a flat in the very midst of the 
*' beastly machinery.'' He and Hearn had not met per- 
sonally since Cincinnati days, many divergencies of senti- 
ment and feeling must have arisen between them in that 
space of ten years, subtle antagonisms of personal habit 
and manner of life, formed in the passage of the years, 
that would not have revealed themselves in letters trans- 
mitted across thousands of miles. 

Hearn, like many Irishmen, was intemperate in argu- 
ment. Testiness in argument is a quality peculiar to the 
Celt, and in the Hearn family was inordinately developed. 
Richard Hearn, Laf cadio 's uncle, the warmest and gentlest- 
hearted of men, would sometimes become quite unman- 
ageable in the course of a political or artistic discussion. 
Old Mrs. Hearn, Laf cadio 's grandmother, a person far 
superior to any of the Hearns of her day in mental cal- 
ibre, was wont to declare that the only way she had lived 
in peace and amity with her husband and his relations 
was that for thirty years she had never ventured to ex- 
press an opinion. 

Krehbiel was a Teuton, a northerner; Hearn was an 
oriental with oriental tendencies and sympathies. Con- 
tinually in the course of the Krehbiel correspondence, 
Hearn reminds his friend that his ancestors were Goths 
and Vandals — and he tells him that he still possesses traces 
of that Gothic spirit which detests all beauty that is not 



beautiful with the fantastic and unearthly beauty that is 
Gothic. . . . This is a cosmopolitan art era, he tells 
him again, and you must not judge everything that claims 
art merit by a Gothic standard. 

From the fine criticisms and essays that have been 
given to the public by Henry Krehbiel, it is apparent that 
his musical taste was entirely for German music. Above 
all, he was an enthusiast upon the subject of the Modern 
School, the Music of the Future, as it was called; Hearn, 
on the other hand — no musician from a technical point of 
view — frankly declared that he preferred a folk-song or 
negro melody, to a Beethoven's sonata or an opera by 

Krehbiel, in an article written after his death, en- 
titled *' Hearn and Folk Music," declares that it would 
have broken Hearn 's heart had he ever told him that any 
of the music which he sent him or of which he wrote de- 
scriptions showed no African, but Scotch and British 
characteristics, or sophistications from the civilised art. 
**He had heard from me of oriental scales, and savage 
music, in which there were fractional tones unknown to 
the occidental system. These tones he thought he heard 
again in negro and Creole melodies, and he was constantly 
trying to make me understand what he meant by descrip- 
tions, by diagrams, he could not record rhythms in any 
other way. The glissando effect which may be heard in 
negro singing, and the use of tones not in our scales, he 
described over and over again as 'tonal splinterings. * 
They had for him a great charm. ' ' 

Miss Elizabeth Bisland was in New York, acting as sub- 
editor of the Cosmopolitan Magazine. Lafcadio made an 
unsuccessful attempt to see her. ** Nobody can find any- 
body, nothing seems to be anywhere, everything seems to 
be mathematics, and geometry, and enigmatics, and rid- 
dles and confusion worse confounded. ... I am sorry 



not to see you — but since you live in Hell what can I do ? " 
This is his outburst to Tunison. 

To Harpers, the publishers, he offered to go where they 
would send him, so long as it was south, taking an open 
engagement to send them letters when he could. They 
suggested a trip to the West Indies and British Guiana. 
In the beginning of June, 1887, he started on the Bar- 
racouta for Trinidad. His account of his *' Midsummer 
Trip to the "West Indies," a trip that only lasted for 
three months, from July to September, appeared origi- 
nally in Harper's Monthly. It was afterwards incorpo- 
rated in his larger book, *'Two Years in the French West 

Hearn^s more intimate life, during this, his first visit 
to the tropics, is to be found recounted in his letters to 
Dr. Matas, the New Orleans physician. They reveal the 
same erratic, unpractical, wayward being as ever, beset by 
financial difficulties, carried away by unbalanced enthusi- 

He had been without a cent of money, he said, for four 
months, and, unacquainted with any one, he could not 
get credit, yet starvation at Martinique was preferable to 
luxury in New York. ''The climate was simply heaven 
on earth, no thieves, no roughs, no snobs; everything 
primitive and morally pure. Confound fame, wealth, rep- 
utation and splendour! Leave them all, give up New 
Orleans, these things are superfluous in the West Indies, 
obsolete nuisances." All ambition to write was paralysed, 
*'but nature did the writing in green, azure, and gold, 
while the palms distilled Elixir Vitce/'^ 

There is only one letter to Krehbiel from the West 
Indies, published in the series edited by Miss Bisland. 
Krehbiel was apparently leaving for Europe to attend the 

1 Dr. George Milbury Gould's book, "Concerning Lafcadio Heam," 
published by Messrs. Fisher Unwin. 



Wagner Festival at Bayreuth. Hearn expresses a hope 
that before his departure from New York he would ar- 
range with Tunison or somebody to put the things left 
in his charge by Hearn, in a place of safety until some 
arrangement had been come to with Harpers, the pub- 
lishers. Though there is no record of a broken friend- 
ship, the two comrades had apparently drifted apart. 
All the old spontaneity, the close communion of mind 
with mind was gone. You cannot help feeling as if 
you had personally lost a valued and sympathetic com- 

During the course of the month of September, Hearn 
found himself back in the United States. His stay, how- 
ever, only lasted a week. He arrived on the 21st, and on 
the 28th of the same month returned to the tropics on 
board the Barracouta, on w^hich he had returned. *'Two 
Years in the French West Indies/' though it has not the 
poetic pathos, the weird atmosphere, that make his Japa- 
nese books so arresting and original, is a delightful col- 
lection of pictures taken absolutely fresh from the heart 
of tropical nature with its luxuriant and exotic beauty. 
Had he never written anything but this, Hearn would 
have been recognised as one, at least, of the striking fig- 
ures in the prose literature of the latter end of the nine- 
teenth century. To appreciate the beauty of its style, it 
is well to compare it with books on the same subject, 
Fronde's ''West Indies," for instance, or Sir Frederick 
Treve's ''Cradle of the Deep," written, both of them, in 
sonorous, vigorous English. You are interested, carried 
along in the flow of chapter and paragraph, suddenly you 
come upon a few sentences that take your senses captive 
witl> the music of their eddying ripple. You feel as if 
you had been walking through a well-cultured upland 
country, when from under a hidden bank the music of a 
running stream falls upon your ear with the soothing 



magic of its silvery cadence; looking at the foot of the 
page you see it is a quotation from Lafcadio Hearn. For 
instance : — 

** Soundless as a shadow is the motion of all these naked- 
footed people. On any quiet mountain way, full of curves, 
where you fancy yourself alone, you may often be startled 
by something you feel, rather than hear behind you, — 
surd steps, the springy movement of a long lithe body, 
dumb oscillations of raiment, — and ere you can turn to 
look, the haunter swiftly passes wdth Creole greeting of 
*bon-jou' or 'bonsoue, missie/ . . .'* 

*'Two Years in the French West Indies'* was dedicated 

**A mon cher ami, 


''Notaire a Saint Pierre, Martinique. 

** Souvenir de nos promenades, de nos voyages, de nos 
causeries, des sjrmpathies echangees, de tout le charme 
d'une amitie inalterable et inoubliable, de tout ce qui parle 
a 1 'ame au doux Pays des Revenants. ' ' 

Amoux is mentioned subsequently in one or two of 
Hearn 's letters. He alludes to suppers eaten with him at 
Grande Anse, in a little room opening over a low garden 
full of banana-trees, to the black beach of the sea, with the 
great voice thundering outside so that they could scarcely 
hear themselves speak, and the candle in the verrine flut- 
tering like something afraid. 

In 1902, in a letter written to Ellwood Hendrik from 
Tokyo, shortly after the great eruption of Mt. Pelee that 
destroyed Saint Pierre, he alludes to Arnoux' garden, and 
speaks of a spray of arborescent fern that had been sent 
him. In the fragment, also, called ''Vanished Light," he 



describes the amber shadows and courtyard filled with 
flickering emerald and the chirrup of leaping water. A 
little boy and girl run to meet him, and the father's voice, 
deep and vibrant as the tone of a great bell, calls from an 
inner doorway, ''Entrez done, mon ami!" *'But all this 
was — and is not! . . . Never again will sun or moon 
shine upon the streets of that city; never again will its 
ways be trodden, never again will its gardens blossom 
. . . except in dreams." 

Hearn definitely left Martinique in 1889, bound for 
America; having completed the task he had undertaken 
to do. Much as he loved the lazy, easy tropical life, 
**the perfumed peace of enormous azured noons, and the 
silent flickering of fire-flies through the lukewarm dis- 
tance, the turquoise sky and the beautiful brown women," 
he began, before the end of his stay, to acknowledge that 
the resources of intellectual life were lacking; no libra- 
ries, no books in any language; a mind accustomed to 
discipline became, he said, like a garden long uncultivated, 
in which rare flowers returned to their primitive savage 
forms, smothered by rank, tough growths, which ought to 
be pulled up and thrown away. "Nature does not allow 
serious study or earnest work, and if you revolt against 
her, she leaves you helpless and tortured for months. One 
must not seek the Holy Ghost, the world is young here, — 
not old and wise and grey as in the North. . . . The 
material furnished by the tropics could only, ' ' he said, ' * be 
utilised in a Northern atmosphere. . . ." The climate 
numbed mental life, and the inspiration he hoped for 
w^ouldn't come. 

During his stay in New York, while preparing 
''Youma" (a story written in the West Indies) for press 
and going over the proofs of ** Chita" before its appear- 
ance in book form, he seems to have been in a pitiable state 
of destitution, obliged to make a translation of Anatole 



France's ^'Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard" to keep bread 
in his mouth. 

**So you read my translation of 'Sylvestre Bonnard?' '' 
he says to his sister, writing from Japan. *'I made it in 
two weeks, the Publishers paying me only $100. Of course 
the translation was too quickly done to be very good. I 
could not have written it all in the prescribed time, so a 
typewriter was hired for me. She was a pretty girl and 
I almost fell in love with her." 

In 1889, Hearn made that ill-advised visit to Phila- 
delphia, to Dr. George Milbury Gould. He had only 
known this gentleman hitherto through an interchange of 
letters. Gould had written to him at New Orleans, ex- 
pressing delight with some of Hearn 's translations from 
the French, upon which Hearn, in his usual impulsive way 
rushed into a correspondence. This was in April, 1887. 
Gould had written several pamphlets on the subject of 
myopia and defective sight, these he sent to Hearn, and 
Hearn had responded, touching, as usual, on every sort of 
philosophical and literary subject. When he returned to 
the United States, after his two years in the French West 
Indies, he thought he would like to consult Gould on the 
subject of his eyesight. He therefore wrote, suggesting 
that if a quiet room could be found for him in Philadel- 
phia he would try his luck there. 

Gould's account of his first appearance in his consulting- 
room is familiar to all who have read his book. *'The 
poor exotic was so sadly out of place, so wondering, so 
suffering and shy, that he would certainly have run out 
of the house if by a tone of voice I had betrayed any curi- 
osity or a doubt. ' ' ^ 

Being extremely hard-up, Hearn was glad to accept an 
arrangement to stop in Gould's house for a while, sharing 
the family meals, but spending the greater part of the day 

1 "Concerning Lafcadio Hearn," Messrs. Fisher Unwin. 



at work on his proof-correcting in a room set apart for 
him. An incident, related by Gould, shows Hearn's ex- 
traordinary shyness and dislike to make the acquaintance 
of strangers. He was desirous of giving an idea of the 
music of Creole songs in his book on the West Indies, but, 
because of his ignorance of technical counterpoint, was un- 
able to do so. Gould made an arrangement with a lady, 
an acquaintance, to repeat the airs on her piano as he 
whistled them. An appointment was made for a visit, 
but on their way to the house Hearn gradually became 
more and more silent, and his steps slower and slow- 
er. When at last he reached the doorstep and the bell 
had been rung, his courage failed, and before the servant 
appeared he had run, as if for life, and was half a square 

Gould claims to have made noteworthy changes in 
Hearn's character during the summer he stayed with him 
at Philadelphia. He declares that he first gave him a 
**soul," taught him the sense of duty, and made him ap- 
preciate the beauties of domestic life! A very beautiful 
story entitled ''Karma," published in Lippincott's Maga- 
zine after Hearn had left for Japan, certainly shows that 
a change of some sort was being wrought. '*I never could 
find in the tropics that magnificent type of womanhood 
which, in the New England girl, makes one afraid even to 
think about sex, while absolutely adoring the personality. 
Perfect nature inspires a love that is fear. I don't think 
any love is noble without it. The tropical woman inspires 
a love that is half compassion; this is always dangerous, 
untrustworthy, delusive. ' ' 

Gould, also, much to the indignation of Hearn's friends, 
claims to have been the first person who definitely turned 
his thoughts to the Far East. Inasmuch as Hearn's mind 
had been impregnated with Japan from New Orleans days, 
this seems an unlikely statement; but of all unprofitable 



things in this world is the sifting of literary wrangles; 
Hearn's intimacy with George Milbury Gould has led to 
lawsuits, recriminations, and many distasteful and painful 
episodes between Gould and some of Hearn's friends. It 
is as well perhaps, therefore, to go into detail as little as 

A passage occurs in one of Hearn's letters to EUwood 
Hendrik which disposes of the matter. *'0f course we 
shall never see each other again in this world, and what 
is the use of being unkind after all? . . . The effect 
is certainly to convince a man of forty-four that the less 
he has to do with his f ellowmen the better, or, at least, that 
the less he has to do with the so-called * cultured' the bet- 
ter. . . ." 

From the city of doctors and Quakers, Heam wrote 
several letters to Miss Bisland, at first entirely formal 
upon literary subjects. He couldn't say when he was go- 
ing to New York, as he was tied up by business muddle, 
waiting for information, anxious beyond expression about 
an undecided plan, shivering with cold, and longing for 
the tropics. 

Lights are thrown upon his emotional and intellectual 
life in letters written in the autumn to Dr. Gould from 
New York. 

Japan was looming large on the oriental horizon. A 
book by Percival Lowell, entitled *'The Soul of the Far 
East," had just appeared. It apparently made a pro- 
found impression upon Hearn; every word he declared to 
be dynamic, as lucid and philosophical as Schopenhauer. 
All his former enthusiasm for Japan was aroused, he fol- 
lowed her progress with the deepest interest. The Japa- 
nese constitution had been promulgated in 1889, the first 
diet had met in Tokyo in 1890, the simultaneous recon- 
struction of her army, and creation of a navy, was gradu- 
ally placing her in the van of far eastern nations; and, 



what was more important to commercial America, her 
trade had enormously developed under the new regime. 

Harpers, the publishers, came to the conclusion that 
it would be expedient to send one of their staff to Tokyo 
as regular correspondent; Hearn had succeeded in catch- 
ing the attention of the public by his story of ''Chita" 
and ''A Midsummer Trip," that had both been published 
serially in their magazine. With his graphic and pictur- 
esque pen he would adequately, they thought, fill the post. 

In an interview with the managing director he was ap- 
proached upon the subject, and, needless to say, eagerly 
accepted the offer. It was arranged, therefore, that, ac- 
companied hy Charles D. Weldon, one of Harpers' artists, 
he was to start in the beginning of the March of 1890 for 
the Far East. 

Little did Hearn realise that the strange land for which 
he was bound was to receive him forever, to make him 
one with its religion, its institutions, its nationality, and 
that, as he closed the door of the publisher 's room that 
day, he was closing the door between himself and western 
civilisation forever. 




". . . Yes — for no little time these fairy-folk can give you all 
the soft bliss of sleep. But sooner or later, if you dwell long with 
them, your contentment will prove to have much in common with the 
happiness of dreams. You will never forget the dream, — never; but 
it will lift at last, like those vapours of spring which lend preter- 
natural loveliness to a Japanese landscape in the forenoon of radiant 
days. Really you are happy because you have entered bodily into 
Fairyland, into a world that is not and never could be your own. 
You have been transported out of your own century, over spaces 
enormous of perished time, into an era forgotten, into a vanished 
age, — ^back to something ancient as Egypt or Nineveh. That is the 
secret of the strangeness and beauty of things, the secret of the thrill 
they give, the secret of the elfish charm of the people and their ways. 
Fortunate mortal ! the tide of Time has turned for you ! But remem- 
ber that all here is enchantment, that you have fallen under the 
spell of the dead, that the lights and the colours and the voices must 
fade away at last into emptiness and silence." 

Mrs. Wetmore is inaccurate in stating that Lafcadio 
Hearn started for Japan on May Sth, 1890. She must 
mean March, for he landed in Yokohama on Good Friday, 
April 13th, after a six weeks' journey. His paper, 
entitled *'A Winter Journey to Japan,'' contributed to 
Harper ^s, describes a journey made in the depth of win- 

He stepped from the railway depot, ''not upon Canadian 
soil, but upon Canadian ice. Ice, many inches thick, 
sheeted the pavement, and lines of sleighs, instead of lines 
of hacks, waited before the station for passengers. . . . 
A pale-blue sky arched cloudlessly overhead; and grey 
Montreal lay angled very sharply in the keen air over the 



frozen miles of the St. Lawrence; sleighs were moving, — 
so far away that it looked like a crawling of beetles; and 
beyond the farther bank where ice-cakes made a high, 
white ridge, a line of purplish hills arose into the hori- 
zon. . . .'' 

Heam's account of his journey through wastes of 
snow, up mountain sides, through long chasms, passing 
continually from sun to shadow, and from shadow to 
sun, the mountains interposing their white heads, and ever 
heaping themselves in a huge maze behind, are above the 
average of ordinary traveller's prose, but there is no page 
that can be called arresting or original. The impressions 
seem to be written to order, written, in fact, as subordinate 
to the artist's illustrations. So irksome did tliis necessity 
of writing a text to Weldon's illustrations become, that it 
is said to have been one of the reasons for the rupture of 
his contract with Harpers almost immediately after his 
arrival in Japan. 

The seventeen days that he passed on the northern Pa- 
cific, with their memories of heavy green seas and ghostly 
suns, the roaring of the rigging and spars against the gale, 
the steamer rocking like a cradle as she forced her way 
through the billowing weaves, are well described. There is 
a weird touch, too, in his description of the Chinese steer- 
age passengers, playing the game of '* fan-tan" by the 
light of three candles at a low table covered with a bamboo 

Deep in the hold below he imagines the sixtj^ square 
boxes resembling tea-chests, covered with Chinese letter- 
ing, each containing the bones of a dead man, bones being 
sent back to melt into that Chinese soil from whence, by 
nature's vital chemistry, they were shapen . . . and 
he imagines those labelled bones once crossing the same 
ocean on just such a ship, and smoking or dreaming their 
time away in just such berths, and playing the same 



strange play by such a yellow light, in even just such an 
atmosphere, heavy with vaporised opium. 

*' Meanwhile, something has dropped out of the lives of 
some of us, as lives are reckoned by Occidental time, — a 
day. A day that will never come back again, unless we 
return by this same route, — over this same iron-grey waste, 
in the midst of which our lost day will wait for us, — ^per- 
haps in vain." 

Not from the stormy waters of the Pacific, however, not 
from gleaming Canadian pinnacles, or virgin forests, or 
dim canons, was this child of the South and the Orient, 
this interpreter of mankind in all his exotic and strange 
manifestations to draw his inspiration, but from the val- 
leys and hill-sides of that immemorial East that stretched 
in front of him, manured and fructified by untold centu- 
ries of thought and valour and belief. 

The spell fell on him from the moment that, through 
the transparent darkness of the cloudless April morning, 
he caught sight of the divine mountain. The first sight 
of Fuji, hanging above Yokohama Bay like a snowy ghost 
in the arch of the infinite day, is a sight never to be for- 
gotten, a vision that, for the years Heam was yet to 
traverse before the heavy, folded curtain fell on his stage 
of life, was destined to form the background of his poetic 
dreams and imaginings. 

Mr. Henry "Watkin appears to have been the first per- 
son to whom Hearn wrote from Japan. So great was the 
charm of this new country that he seemed irresistibly 
called to impart some of the delight to those he had left 
behind in America. He told him that he passed much 
of his time in the temples, trying to see into the heart of 
the strange people surrounding him. He hoped to learn 
the language, he said, and become a part of the very soul 
of the people. He rhapsodised on the subject of the sim- 
ple humanity of Japan and the Japanese. . . . He 



loved their gods, their customs, their dress, their bird- 
like, quavering songs, their houses, their supersti- 
tions, their faults. He was as sure as he was of death 
that their art was as far in advance of our art, as old 
Greek art was superior to that of the earliest art group- 
ings. There was more art in a print by Hokousai, or those 
who came after him, than in a $100,000 painting. Occi- 
dentals were the barbarians. 

Most travellers when first visiting Japan see only its 
atmosphere of elfishness, of delicate fantasticality. The 
queer little streets, the quaint shops where people seem to 
be playing at buying and selling, the smiling, small people 
in *'geta" and "kimono," the mouldering shrines with 
their odd images and gardens; but to Hearn a transfigur- 
ing light cast a ghostly radiance on ordinary sights and 
scenes, opening a world of suggestion, and inspiring him 
with an eloquent power of impressing upon others not only 
the visible picturesqueness and oddity of Japanese life, 
but that dim surmise of another and inscrutable humanity, 
that atmosphere of spirituality so inseparably a part of 
the religion Buddha preached to man. With almost sac- 
ramental solemnity, he gazed at the strange ideographs, 
wandered about the temple gardens, ascended the stair- 
ways leading to ancient shrines. What these experiences 
did for his genius is to be read in the first book inspired by 
the Orient while he was still under the glamour of en- 
chantment. Amidst the turmoil, the rush, the struggle of 
our monster City of the West, if you open his ''Glimpses 
of Unfamiliar Japan," and read his description of his first 
visit to a Buddhist temple, you will find the silence of 
centuries descending upon your soul, the thrill of some- 
thing above and beyond the commonplace of this everyday 
world. The bygone spirit of the race, with its hidden 
meanings and allegories, its myths and legends, the very 
essence of the heart of the people, that has lain sleeping 



in the temple gloom, will reveal itself; the faint odour of 
incense will float to your nostrils; the shuffliQg of pilgrim 
feet to your ear ; you will see the priests sliding back screen 
after screen, pouring in light on the gilded bronzes and 
inscriptions; involuntarily you will look for the image of 
the Deity, of the presiding spirit between the altar groups 
of convoluted candelabra, and you will see *'only a mir- 
ror ! Symbolising what ? Illusion ? Or that the universe 
exists for us solely as the reflection of our own souls ? Or 
the old Chinese teaching that we must seek the Buddha 
only in our hearts? '' 

A storm soon passed across the heaven of his dreams. 
He suddenly terminated his contract with Harpers. **I 
am starved out,'' he wrote to Miss Bisland. *'Do you 
think well enough of me to try to get me employment at 
a regular salary, somewhere in the United States ? " . . . 

It is said that his reason for breaking with Harpers 
was a difference of opinion as to the relative position of 
himself and their artist, Mr. Charles D. Weldon. Hearn 
was expected to write up to the illustrations of the articles 
sent to the magazine, instead of the illustrations beiQg 
done for Hearn 's letterpress. Besides which, the fact 
transpired that the artist was receiving double Hearn 's 

The little Irishman was a mixture of exaggerated hu- 
mility and sensitive pride on the score of his literary 
work; always in extremes in this, as in all else. He was 
also, as we have seen, extremely unbusinesslike; he never 
attempted to enter into an agreement of any kind. It 
seems difficult to accept his statement that his publishers, 
having made a success with "Chita" and ''Youma" and 
''Two Years in the French West Indies," paid him only 
at the rate of five hundred dollars a year. No doubt Har- 
pers might have been able to put a very different com- 
plexion on the matter. As a proof of the difficulty in 



conducting affairs with him, when he threw up his Japa- 
nese engagement he declined to accept royalties on books 
already in print. Harpers were obliged to make arrange- 
ments to transmit the money through a friend in Japan, 
and it was only after considerable persuasion and a lapse 
of several years that he was induced to accept it. So 
often in his career through life Hearn proved an exempli- 
fication of his own statement. Those who are checked by 
emotional feeling, where no check is placed on competi- 
tion, must fail. Uncontrolled emotional feeling was the 
rock on which he split, at this and many other critical mo- 
ments in his career. 

He had brought a letter of introduction, presumably 
from Harpers, the publishers, to Professor Basil Hall 
Chamberlain, professor of English literature at the Tokyo 
University, the well-known author of "Things Japanese.'* 
On his arrival, Hearn thought of obtaining a position as 
teacher in a Japanese family, so as to master the spoken 
language. Simply to have a small room where he could 
write would satisfy him, he told Professor Chamberlain, 
and so long as he was boarded he would not ask for re- 
muneration. He knew, also, that he could not carry out 
his fixed determination of writing a comprehensive book 
on Japan, without passing several years exclusively 
amongst the Japanese people. 

Chamberlain, however, saw at once that Hearn 's ca- 
pacities were far superior to those necessary for a private 
tutorship. Having been so long resident in Japan, and 
written so much upon the country, as well as occupying a 
professorship in Tokyo Imperial University, his influence 
in Japanese official life was considerable ; he now bestirred 
himself, and succeeded in getting Hearn an appointment 
as English teacher in the Jinjo Chugakko, or ordinary 
middle school, at Matsue, in the province of Izumo, for the 
term of one year. 



A week or two later Heam was able to announce to his 
dear sister, Elizabeth, that he was going to become a coun- 
try schoolmaster in Japan. 

On several occasions Professor Chamberlain held out the 
kindly hand of comradeship to Lafeadio; to him Hearn 
owed his subsequent appointment at the Tokyo University. 

For five or six years the two men were bound together 
in a close communion of intellectual enthusiasms and mu- 
tual interests, as is easy to see by the wonderful corre- 
spondence recently published. To him and to Pajrmaster 
Mitchell McDonald, Lafeadio dedicated his *' Glimpses of 
Unfamiliar Japan.'' 












Then came a sudden break. 

After Hearn 's death, Chamberlain, in discussing the 
subject, lamented ''the severance of a connection with one 
so gifted." He made one or two attempts at renewal of 
intercourse, which were at first met with cold politeness, 
afterwards with complete silence, causing him to desist 
from further endeavours. The key, perhaps, to Hearn 's 



course of action, is to be found in some observations that 
he addresses to Professor Chamberlain just before the 
close of their friendship. They had been in correspond- 
ence on the subject of the connection of the tenets of Bud- 
dhism and scientific expositions of evolutionary science in 

"Dear Chamberlain: In writing to you, of course, I 
have not been writing a book, but simply setting down the 
thoughts and feelings of the moment as they come. . . . 

"I write a book exactly the same way; but all this has 
to be smoothed, ordinated, corrected, toned over twenty 
times before a page is ready. ... I cannot help fear- 
ing that what you mean by 'justice and temper ateness* 
means that you want me to write as if I were you, or at 
least to measure sentence or thought by your standard. 
. . . If I write well of a thing one day, and badly an- 
other, I expect my friend to discern that both impressions 
are true, and solve the contradiction — that is, if my letters 
are really wanted." 

The fact is that, if Hearn took up a philosophic or 
scientific opinion, he was determined to make all with 
whom he held converse share them, and if they did not 
do so at once, like the despotic oriental monarch, he would 
overturn the chessboard. 

''The rigid character of his philosophical opinions,'' 
says Chamberlain, ''made him perforce despise as intel- 
lectual weaklings all those who did not share them, or 
shared them in a lukewarm manner, and his disillusion- 
ment with a series of friends in whom he had once thought 
to find intellectual sympathy is seen to have been inev- 

It was principally during the last fourteen years of his 
life that Hearn acquired the unenviable name of being 
ungrateful, inconstant, and capricious. To those friends 
made in his youthful days of struggle and adversity he re- 



mained constant, but with the exception of Mitchell Mc- 
Donald, Nishida Sentaro, and Amenomori, it is the same 
story of perversity and estrangement. 

An unceremonious entry into his house, without defer- 
ence to ancient Japanese etiquette, which enjoined the 
taking off of boots and the putting on of sandals, a sneer 
at Shinto ancestor worship, a difference of opinion on 
Herbert Spencer, and Hearn would disappear actually and 
metaphorically. This proves his want of heart, you say. 
But a careful study of Hearn 's **Wesen" will show that 
his apparent inconstancy did not arise from a change of 
affection, but because his very affection for the people he 
had turned from made the taut strands of friendship more 
difficult to reunite, especially for a person of his shy tem- 
perament. "Which of us has not recognised the greater 
difficulty of making up a ^Hiff" with a friend for whom 
one cares deeply than with a person to whom one is indif- 
ferent? The tougher the stuff the more ravelled the 
edges of the tear, and the more difficult to join together. 

At Kobe, an incident was related to us by Mr. Young, 
his chief on the Kohe Chronicle and a person to whom 
Hearn owed much and was attached by many ties of grati- 
tude and friendship. A guest at dinner ventured to dis- 
sent from Hearn 's opinion that the reverential manner in 
which people prostrated themselves before the mikado was 
in no way connected vdth religious principles. Hearn 
shrugged his shoulders, rose, walked away from the table, 
and nothing would induce him to return. He did not, in- 
deed, enter Mr. Young's house again for some days, though 
doing his work at the office for the newspaper as usual. 

When Hearn left Tokyo to take up his appointment at 
Matsue, he was accompanied by his friend Akira, a young 
student and priest, who spoke English and could, there- 
fore, act as interpreter. At Kobe they left the railway and 
continued their journey in jinrikishas, a journey of four 



days with strong runners, from the Pacific to the Sea of 

''Out of the city and over the hills to Izumo, the Land 
of the Ancient Gods!" The incantation is spoken, we 
find ourselves in the region of Horai — the fairyland of 
Japan — with its arch of liquid blue sky, lukewarm, wind- 
less atmosphere, an atmosphere enormously old, but of 
ghostly generations of souls blended into one immense 
translucency, souls of people who thought in ways never 
resembling occidental ways. 

Writing later to Chamberlain, Hearn acknowledged that 
what delighted him those first days in Japan was the 
charm of nature in human nature, and in human art, sim- 
plicity, mutual kindness, child-faith, gentleness, politeness 
. . . for in Japan even hate works with smiles and 
pretty words. 

For the first time Hearn was not merely describing a 
sensuous world of sights and sounds, but a world of soft 
domesticity, where thatched \allages nestled in the folds 
of the hills, each with its Buddhist temple, lifting a tilted 
roof of blue-grey tiles above a congregation of thatched 
homesteads. Can anything be more delightful than his 
description of one of the village inns, with its high-peaked 
roof of thatch, and green-mossed eaves, like a coloured 
print out of Hirosliige's picture-books, with its polished 
stairway and balconies, reflecting like mirrored surfaces 
the bare feet of the maid-servants; its luminous rooms 
fresh and sweet-smelling as when their soft mattings were 
first laid down. The old gold-flowered lacquer ware, the 
diaphanous porcelain wine-cups, the teacup holders, which 
are curled lotus leaves of bronze ; even the iron kettle with 
its figurings of dragons and clouds, and the brazen hibachi 
whose handles are heads of Buddhist lions; distant as it 
was from all art-centres, there was no object visible in the 
house which did not reveal the Japanese sense of beauty 



and form. *' Indeed, wherever to-day in Japan one sees 
anything uninteresting in porcelain or metal, something 
commonplace and ugly, one may be almost sure that de- 
testable something has been shaped under foreign influ- 
ence. But here I am in Ancient Japan, probably no 
European eyes ever looked upon these things before. * ' 

After he had submitted to being bathed by his land- 
lord, as if he had been a little child, and eaten a repast 
of rice, eggs, vegetables and sweetmeats, he sat smoking 
his kiseru until the moon arose, peeping through the heart- 
shaped little window that looked out on the garden be- 
hind, throwing down queer shadows of tilted eaves, and 
horned gables, and delightful silhouettes. Suddenly a 
measured clapping of hands became audible, and the echo- 
ing of geta, and the tramping of wooden sandals filled the 
street. His companion, Akira, told him they were all 
going to see the dance of the Bon-odori at the temple, the 
dance of the Festival of the Dead, and that they had better 
go, too. This dance of the Festival of the Dead he de- 
scribes in his usual graphic way: the ghostly weaving 
of hands, the rhythmic gliding of feet — above all, the 
flitting of the marvellous sleeves, apparitional, soundless, 
velvety as the flitting of great tropical bats. In the midst 
of the charmed circle there crept upon him a nameless, 
tingling sense of being haunted, until, recalled to reality 
by a song full of sweet, clear quavering, gushing from 
some girlish mouth, and fifty other voices joined in the 
chant. ''Melodies of Europe," he ends, ** awaken within 
us feelings we can utter, sensations familiar as mother- 
speech, inherited from all the generations behind us. But 
how explain the emotion evoked by a primitive chant, to- 
tally unlike anything in western melody, impossible even 
to write in those tones which are the ideographs of our 
music-tongue ? 

*'And the emotion itself — ^what is it? I know not; yet 



I feel it to be something infinitely more old than I, some- 
thing not of only one place or time, but vibrant to all com- 
mon joy or pain of being, under the universal sun. Then 
I wonder if the secret does not lie in some untaught spon- 
taneous harmony of that chant with Nature 's most ancient 
song, in some unconscious kinship to the music of solitudes, 
— all trillings of summer life that blend to make the great 
sweet Cry of the Land. ' * 




"Far underlying all the surface crop of quaint superstitions and 
artless myths and fantastic magic there thrills a mighty spiritual 
force, the whole soul of a race with all its impulses and powers and 
intuitions. He who would know what Shinto is must learn to know 
that mysterious soul in which the sense of beauty and the power of 
art and the fire of heroism and magnetism of loyalty and the emo- 
tion of faith have become inherent, immanent, unconscious, instinc- 

The year spent in the quaint old city of Matsue — 
birth-place of the rites, mysteries and mythologies of the 
ancient religion — ^was one of the happiest and most pro- 
ductive, intellectually, of Hearn's career. 

His ** Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" was the result. 
It is perhaps not as finished as some of his later Japanese 
stories. Writing some years afterwards, he said that 
when he wanted to feel properly humbled he read about 
half a page of ** Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" — then he 
howled and wondered how he ever could have written so 
badly, and found that he was only really a very twenty- 
fifth-rate workman, and that he ought to be kicked. Like 
some of the early poems of celebrated poets, however, 
though now and then lacking in polish and reticence, the 
glow of enthusiasm, of surprised delight, that illumines 
every page will always make this book, in spite of the 
vogue of much of his subsequent work, the one which is 
most read and by which he is best known. 

Here, amongst this bizarre people, he found his predi- 
lection for the odd, the queer, the strange, satisfied beyond 



his utmost desire. Matsue was not the tourists' Japan, not 
the Japan of bowler hats and red-brick warehouses, but 
the Japan where ancient faiths were still a living force, 
where old customs were still followed, and ancient chivalry 
still an animating power. 

How fresh and picturesque is his record of the expe- 
riences of every day and every hour as they pass. We 
hear it, and see it all with him : the first of the noises that 
waken a sleeper . . . the measured, muffled echoing 
of the ponderous pestle of the cleaner of rice, the most pa- 
thetic of the sounds of Japanese life; the beating, indeed, 
of the pulse of the land; the booming of the great temple 
bell, signalling the hour of Buddhist morning prayer, the 
clapping of hands, as the people saluted the rising of 
the sun, and the cries of the earliest itinerant vendors, the 
sellers of daikon and other strange vegetables . . . 
and the plaintive call of the women who hawked little thin 
slips of kindling-wood for the lighting of charcoal fires. 

Sliding open his little Japanese window, he looked out. 
Veiled in long nebulous bands of mist, the lake below 
looked like a beautiful spectral sea, of the same tint as the 
da-^ATL-sky and mixing with it ... an exquisite chaos, 
as the delicate fogs rose, slowly, very slowly, and the sun's 
yellow rim came into sight. 

From these early morning hours until late at night 
every moment was packed full of new experiences, new 
sensations. Not only was the old city itself full of strange 
and unexpected delights, but the country round was a land 
of dreams, strange gods, immemorial temples. 

One day it was a visit to the Cave of the Children's 
Ghosts, where at night the shadowy children come to 
build their little stone-heaps at the feet of Jizo, changing 
the stones every night. Doubtless in the quaint imagina- 
tion of the people there still lingers the primitive idea of 
some communication, mysterious and awful, between the 



world of waters and the world of the dead. It is always 
over the sea, after the Feast of Souls, that the spirits pass 
murmuring back to their dim realm, in those elfish little 
ships of straw which are launched for them upon the six- 
teenth day of the seventh moon. The vague idea behind 
the pious act is that all waters flow to the sea and the sea 
itself unto the ** Nether-distant Land.'' 

Then a visit to Kitzuki to visit the Buddhist temple, 
into whose holy precincts no European had hitherto been 
admitted. Senke Takamori, the spiritual governor of 
Kitzuki, whose princely family dated back their ancestry 
to the goddess of the sun, received him with extraordinary 
urbanity. Senke, it appears, was connected with the 
Koizumis, the family to which Hearn's future wife be- 

To see the ancient temple of Kitzuki at that time was 
to see the living centre of Shinto, to feel the life pulse of 
the ancient cult throbbing in the nineteenth century as 
in the unknown past — that religion that lives not in books, 
nor ceremonial, but in the national heart. The magnetism 
of another faith polarised his belief. The forces about 
him, working imperceptibly, influenced him and drew 
him towards the religion of those amongst whom he lived, 
moulding and forming that extraordinary mixture of 
thought and imagination that enabled him to enter into 
the very heart and soul of ancient Japan. 

If ever a man was, a^ religious people term it, *' called,'* 
Hearn was called to the task of interpreting the supersti- 
tions and beliefs of this strange people. Putting jesting 
on one side, he once said, if he could create something 
unique and rare he would feel that the Unknowable had 
selected him for a mouthpiece for a medium of utterance 
in the holy cycle of its eternal utterance. 

The half -blind, vagrant little genius had at last found 
the directiou in which the real development of his genius 



lay ; the loose, quivering needle of thought, that had moved 
hither and thither, was now set in one direction. The 
stage he was treading, though at first he did not realise 
it, was gradually becoming the sphere of a drama with 
eternal and immutable forces as scene-shifters and cur- 
tain-raisers. The qualities that had enabled Japan to 
conquer China, and had placed her practically in the 
forefront of far eastern nations, he was called upon to 
analyse and explain; to interpret the curious myths of 
this great people of little men, who, shut off from the 
rest of the world for hundreds of years, had, out of their 
own inner consciousness, built up a code of discipline and 
behaviour that, in its self-abnegation, its sense of cohesion, 
and fidelity to law, throws our much-vaunted western 
civilisation into the shade. Hearn brought to bear upon 
the interpretation a rare power of using words, sympa- 
thetic insight, an earnest and vivid imagination that en- 
abled him to comprehend the strongly accentuated char- 
acteristics of a race living close to the origins of life; 
barbaric, yet highly refined; superstitious, yet capable of 
adapting themselves to modern thought; playful as chil- 
dren, yet astounding in their heroic gallantry and pa- 
triotism. His genius enabled him to catch a glimpse of 
the indisputable truth that legend and tradition are a 
science in themselves, that, however grotesque, however 
fantastic primeval myths and allegories may be, they are 
indicative of the gradual evolution of the heart and mind 
of generations as they arise and pass away. 

An idea, he said, was growing upon him about the 
utility of superstition, as compared with the utility of 
religion. In consequence of his having elected to live 
the everyday life, and enter into the ordinary interests 
and occupations of this strange people, as no occidental 
ever had before, he was enabled to see that many Japanese 
superstitions had a sort of shorthand value in explaining 



eternal and valuable things. When it would have been 
useless to preach to people vaguely about morality or clean- 
liness or ordinary rules of health, a superstition, a belief 
that certain infringement of moral law will bring direct cor- 
poral punishment, that maligned spirits will visit a room 
that is left unswept, that the gods will chastise over-excess 
in eating or drinking, are related to the most inexorable 
and highest moral laws, and it is easy to understand how 
Invaluable is the study of their superstitions in analysing 
and explaining so enigmatical a people as the Japanese. 

*'Hearn thought a great deal of what we educated 
tTapanese think nothing, '* said a highly-cultured Tokyo 
professor to me, with sarcastic intonation. Hearn, on the 
other hand, maintained that not to the educated Japanese 
must you go to understand the vitality of heart and in- 
telligence which through centuries of the Elder Life has 
evolved so remarkable a nationality. To set forth the 
power that has moulded the character of this far eastern 
people, material must be culled from the unsophisticated 
hearts of the peasants and the common folk. ''The peo- 
ple make the gods, and the gods the people make are the 
best.'* Hearn did not attempt, therefore, a mechanical 
repetition of social and religious tenets ; but in the mytho- 
logical beliefs, in the legendary lore that has slumbered 
for generations in simple minds he caught the suggestion 
of obedience and fidelity to authority, the strenuous in- 
dustry and self-denial that endowed these quaint super- 
stitions with a potency far beyond the religion and mean- 
ing, or the primitive idea that caused their inception. 
Merely accurate and erudite students would call the im- 
pressions that he collected here, in this unfamiliar Japan, 
trifling and fantastic, but he is able to prove that the de- 
tails of ordinary intercourse, however trifling, the way in 
which men marry and bring up their children, the very 
manner in which they earn their daily bread, above allj 



the rules they impose, and the punishment and rewards 
they invoke to have them obeyed, reveal more of the man- 
ner by which the religion, the art, the heroism of this far 
eastern people have been developed, than hundreds of essays 
treating of dynasties, treaties and ceremonials. 

Aided by that very quality which some may look upon 
as a mental defect, Hearn's tendency to over-emphasise 
an impressive moment at the expense of accuracy stood 
him now in good stead. Physical myopia, he maintained, 
was an aid to artistic work from one aspect : ' ' The keener 
the view, the less depth in the impression produced. There 
is no possibility of attraction in wooded deeps or moun- 
tain recesses for the eye that, like the eye of a hawk, pierces 
shadow and can note the separate quiver of every leaf." 
So mental myopia united with the shaping power of imagi- 
nation was more helpful in enabling him to catch a glimpse 
of the trend of thought and characteristics of the folk 
whose country he adoped than the piercing judgment that 
saw faults and intellectual short-comings. 

Many people, even the Japanese themselves, have said 
that Hearn's view in his first book of things in their 
country was too roseate. Others have declared that he 
must have been a hypocrite to write of Japan in so enthu- 
siastic a strain when in private letters, such as those to 
Chamberlain and Ellwood Hendrik, he expresses so great 
a detestation for the people and their methods. Those 
who say so do not know the nature of the man whom 
they are discussing; compromise with those in office was 
entirely antagonistic to his mode of thought. His life 
was composed of passing illusions and disillusions. That 
he, with his artistic perception, should have been carried 
off his balance by the quaintness and mysticism that he 
encountered in the outlying portions of the country w^as 
but natural. Go into the highlands of Japan amongst the 
simple folk, where primitive conditions still reign, where 



the ancient gods are still believed to haunt the ancient 
shrines, where the glamour and the grace of bygone civ- 
ilisation still lingers, you will yield to the same charm, 
and, as Hearn himself says, better the sympathetic than 
the critical attitude. Perhaps the man who comes to Japan 
full of hate for all things oriental may get nearer the 
truth at once, but he will make a kindred mistake to him 
who views it all, as I did at first, almost with the eyes of a 




" 'Marriage may be either a hindrance or help on the path,' the old 
priest said, 'according to conditions. All depends upon conditions. 
If the love of wife and child should cause a man to become too much 
attached to the temporary advantages of this unhappy world, then 
such love would be a hindrance. But, on the contrary, if the love of 
wife and child should enable a man to live more purely and more 
unselfishly than he could do in a state of celibacy, then marriage 
would be a very great help to him in the Perfect Way. Many are 
the dangers of marriage for the wise; but for those of little under- 
standing, the dangers of celibacy are greater, and even the illusion of 
passion may sometimes lead noble natures to the higher knowledge.' " 

Hearn's marriage, as his widow told us, took place 
early in the year of 1891, ^'23rd of Meiji." That on 
either side it was one of passionate sentiment is doubtful. 
Marriages in Japan are generally arranged on the most 
businesslike footing. By the young Japanese man, it is 
looked upon as a natural duty that has duly to be per- 
formed for the perpetuation of his famil}^ Passion is re- 
served for unions unsanctioned by social conventions. 

Dominated as he was by the idea that his physical de- 
ficiencies rendered a union with one of his own nation- 
ality out of the question, he yet knew that at his time of 
life he had to enter into more permanent conditions with 
the other sex than hitherto, or face a future devoid of 
settled purpose or stability. His state of health also de- 
manded domestic comfort and feminine care. The only 
alternative that presented itself to a celibate life was to 
choose a wife from amongst the people with whom his lines 
were cast. 



From the first moment of his arrival, Heam had been 
carried away by enthusiasm for the gentleness, the docility, 
of the women of Japan. He compares them, much to 
their advantage, with their American sisters. **In the 
eternal order of things, which is the highest being, the 
childish, confiding, sweet Japanese girl, or the occidental 
Circe women of artificial society, with their enormous 
power of evil and their limited capacity for good?" In 
his first letter to Miss Bisland, he writes: ''This is a 
domesticated nature, which loves man and makes itself 
beautiful for him in a quiet grey and blue way like the 
Japanese women." 

It seems an unromantic statement to make with regard 
to an artist who has written such exquisite passages on 
the sentiment that binds a man to a woman, but Hearn, 
in spite of his intellectual idealism, had from certain points 
of view a very material outlook. All considerations — 
even those connected with the deepest emotions that stir 
the human heart — were secondary to the necessities of his 
genius and artistic life. • 

His intimacy with Althea Foley in Cincinnati was 
prompted and fostered by gratitude for her care in pre- 
paring his meals, and nursing him when ill, thus sav- 
ing him from the catastrophe of relinquishing his posi- 
tion on the staff of the Enquirer, which meant not only 
the loss of all means of subsistence, but also the possibil- 
ity of prosecuting the ambition of his life — a literary 

Now, at Matsue, after a touch of somewhat severe ill- 
ness obliging him to pass some weeks in bed, it became 
really a matter of life or death that he should give up liv- 
ing from hand to mouth in country inns. 

With the Japanese teacher of English at the Matsue 
College, an accomplished English scholar, Heam had 
formed a close intimacy from the moment of his arrival, 



an intimacy, indeed, only broken by Nishida Sentaro's 
death in 1898. 

*'His the kind eyes that saw so much for the stranger, 
his the kind lips that gave him so much wise advice, help- 
ing him through the difficulties that beset him, in con- 
sequence of his ignorance of the language." At the 
beginning of his first term Hearn found the necessity of 
remembering or pronouncing the names of the boys, even 
with the class-roll before him, almost an insurmountable 
difficulty. Nishida helped him; gave him all the neces- 
sary instructions about hours and text-books, placed his 
desk close to his, the better to prompt him in school hours, 
and introduced him to the directors and to the governor 
of the province. ''Out of the East," the volume written 
later at Kumamoto, was dedicated to Nishida Sentaro, *'In 
dear remembrance of Izumo days." 

** Hearn 's faith in this good friend was something won- 
derful," his wife tells us. ''When he heard of Nishida 's 
illness, in 1897, he exclaimed: 'I would not mind losing 
everything that belongs to me if I could make him well.* 
He believed in him with such a faith only possible to a 

Nishida Sentaro was also one of the ancient lineage and 
caste, and an intimate friend of the Koizumi family. 

Matsue had been at one time almost exclusively occu- 
pied by the Samurai feudal lords. After throwing open 
her doors to the world, and admitting western civilisa- 
tion, Japan found herself obliged to accept, amongst other 
democratic innovations, the sweeping away of the great 
feudal and military past, reducing families of rank to 
obscurity and poverty. Youths and maidens of illustrious 
extraction, who had only mastered the "arts of courtesy" 
and the "arts of war," found themselves obliged to adopt 
the humblest occupations to provide themselves and their 
families with the means of livelihood. Daughters of men 



once looked upon as aristocrats had to become indoor 
servants with people of a lower caste, or to undertake 
the austere drudgery of the rice-fields or the lotus-ponds. 
Their houses and lands were confiscated — their heirlooms, 
costly robes, crested lacquer ware, passed at starvation 
prices to those whom * * misery makes rich. ' ' Amongst these 
aristocrats the Koizumis were numbered. Nishida Sentaro, 
knowing their miserable circumstances, and seeing how ad- 
visable it would be, if it were Hearn's intention to re- 
main in Japan, to have a settled home of his own, formed 
the idea of bringing about a union between Setsu and the 
English teacher at the Matsue College. 

On his own initiative he undertook the task of approach- 
ing his foreign friend. Finding him favourably inclined, 
he suggested the marriage as a suitable one to Setsu 's par- 

It is supposed that marriage in Japan must be solem- 
nised by a priest, but this is not so. A Japanese marriage 
is simply a legal pledge, and is not invested with any of 
the solemnity and importance cast around it in occidental 
society. A union between an Englishman and a Japanese 
woman can be dissolved with the greatest facility ; in fact, 
it is seldom looked upon as an obligatory engagement. 
It is doubtful if Nishida, when he undertook to act as 
intermediary, or Nakodo, as they call it in Japan, looked 
upon the contract entered into by Lafcadio Hearn and 
Setsu Koizumi as a permanent affair. Hearn from the 
first took it seriously, but it was certainly not until after 
the birth of his first child that the marriage was absolutely 
legalised according to English notions, and then only by his 
nationalising himself a Japanese citizen. 

One of Hearn's saving qualities was compassion for the 
weak and suffering. The young girl's surroundings were 
calculated to inspire the deepest pity in the hearts of those 
admitted— as he was— behind the closely drawn veil of 



pride and reserve that the Samurai aristocrats drew be- 
tween their poverty and public observation. 

What the Samurai maiden, — brought up in the seclu- 
sion of Matsue — may have thought of the grey-haired, 
odd-looking little Irishman of forty-four (a patriarchal 
age in Japan), who was offered to her as a husband, we 
know not. She accepted her fate, Japanese fashion, and 
as the years went by and she began to appreciate his gen- 
tlemanly breeding and chivalry, inherited as was hers from 
generations of well-bred ancestors, the fear and bewilder- 
ment with which he filled her during these first years of 
marriage, changed to a profound and true affection, in- 
deed, to an almost reverential respect for the Gakusha 
(learned person) who kept the pot boiling so handsomely, 
and was run after by all the American and English tour- 
ists at Tokyo. 

So far as we can judge now, Setsu Koizumi can never 
have had any of the exotic charm of the butterfly maidens 
of Kunisada, or the irresistible fascination ascribed to her 
countrywomen by foreign male visitors to Japan. The 
Izumo type is not a good-looking one, — the complexion 
darker and less fresh than that of the Tokyo women — but 
comely, with the comeliness of truth, common-sense and 
goodness she always must have been. 

Tender and true, as her Yerhina, or personal, name, 
'* Setsu,'' signifies, she had learned in self-denial and pov- 
erty the virtues of patience and self-restraint — a daughter 
of Japan — one of a type fast becoming extinct — who 
deemed it a fault to allow her personal trials to wound 
other hearts. 

She may not have been obliged to submit to the trials 
of most Japanese wives, the whims and tyranny, for in- 
stance, of her father- and mother-in-law, or the drudgery 
to provide for, or wait upon a numerous Japanese house- 
hold; but from many indications we know that her life 



sometimes was not by any means a bed of roses. Hu- 
morous, and at the same time pathetic, are her reminis- 
cences of these first days of marriage, as related in later 

**He was such an intense nature," she says, *'and so 
completely absorbed in his work of writing that it made 
him appear strange and even outlandish in ordinary life. 
He even acknowledged himself that he must look like a 
madman. ' ' 

During the course of his life, when undergoing any 
severe mental or physical strain, Hearn was subject to 
periods of hysterical trance, during which he lost con- 
sciousness of surrounding objects. There is a host of 
superstitions amongst the Japanese connected with trances 
or fainting fits. Each human being is supposed to possess 
two souls. When a person faints they believe that one 
soul is withdrawn from the body, and goes on all sorts 
of unknown and mysterious errands, while the other re- 
mains with the envelope to which it belongs; but when 
this takes place a man goes mad; mad people are those 
who have lost one of their souls. On first seeing her 
husband in this condition, the little woman was so terrified 
that she hastened to Nishida Sentaro to seek advice. *'He 
always acted for us as middle-man in those Matsue days, 
and I confess I was afraid my husband might have gone 
crazy. However, I found soon afterwards that it was only 
the time of enthusiasm in thought and writing; and I be- 
gan to admire him more on that account. ' ' 

The calm and material comforts of domestic life gave 
Hearn, for a time, a more assured equilibrium, but these 
trances returned again with considerable frequency in later 

Amenomori, his secretary at Tokyo, tells a story of 
waking one night and seeing a light in Hearn 's study. 
He was afraid Hearn might be ill, and cautiously opened 



the door and peeped in. There he saw the little genius, 
absorbed in his work, standing at his high desk, his nose 
almost touching the paper on which he wrote. Leaf after 
leaf was covered with his small, delicate handwriting. 
After a while, Amenomori goes on, he held up his head, 
''and what did I see? It was not the Hearn I was fa- 
miliar with; his face was mysteriously white; his eyes 
gleamed. He appeared like one in touch with some un- 
earthly presence." 

Many other peculiarities and idiosyncrasies used to cause 
his wife much perturbation of soul. "He had a rare sen- 
sibility of feeling," ^ she says, ''also peculiar tastes." One 
of his peculiar tastes, apparently, was his love of ceme- 
teries. She could not find out what he found so inter- 
esting in ancient epitaphs and verses. When at Kuma- 
moto he told her that he had "found a pleasant place." 
When he offered to take her there, she found that it was 
through a dark path leading to a cemetery. He said, 
"Stop and listen. Do you hear the voices of the frogs 
and the Uguisu singing?" The poor little woman could 
only tremble at the dark and the eerieness. 

She gives a funny picture of herself and Lafcadio, in a 
dry-goods store, when clothes had to be bought "at the 
changing of the season," he selecting some gaudy garment 
with a large design of sea-waves or spider-nests, declaring 
the design was superb and the colour beautiful. 

"I often suspected him," the simple woman adds, "of 
having an unmistakable streak of passion for gay things — 
however, his quiet conscience held him back from giving 
way to it." 

His incurable dislike, too, to conform to any of the rules 
of etiquette — looked upon as all-important in Japan, es- 

1 It is well to remember that Mrs. Hearn cannot speak or write a 
word of English; all her "Reminiscences" are transcribed for her by 
the Japanese poet, Yone Noguchi. 



pecially for people in official positions — -was a continued 
source of trouble to the little woman. She could hardly, 
she says, induce him to wear his * ' polite garments, ' ' which 
were de rigueur at any official ceremony. On one occa- 
sion, indeed, he refused to appear when the Emperor vis- 
ited the Tokyo College because he would not put on his 
frock coat and top hat. 

The difficulty of language was at first insuperable. 
After a time they instituted the ^'Hearn San Kotoba," or 
Hearnian language, as they called it, but in these Matsue 
days an interpreter had to be employed. The ''race prob- 
lem," however, was the real complication that beset these 
two. That comradeship such as we comprehend it in Eng- 
land could exist between two nationalities, so fundamen- 
tally different as Setsu Koizumi's and Lafcadio Hearn's, 
is improbable if not impossible. ''Even my own little 
wife," Hearn -writes years afterwards, "is somewhat mys- 
terious still to me, though always in a lovable way — of 
course a man and a woman know each other 's hearts ; but 
outside of personal knowledge, there are race tendencies 
difficult to understand." 




"The real charm of woman in herself is that which comes after the 
first emotion of passionate love has died away, when all illusions 
fade to reveal a reality lovelier than any illusion which has been 
evolved behind the phantom curtain of them. And again marriage 
seems to me a certain destruction of all emotion and suffering. So 
that afterwards one looks back at the old times with wonder. One 
cannot dream or desire anything more after love is transmuted into 
marriage. It is like a haven from which you can see currents rush- 
ing like violet bands beyond you out of sight. It seems to me (though 
I am a poor judge of such matters) that it does not make a man 
any happier to have an intellectual wife, unless he marries for society. 
The less intellectual, the more capable, so long as there is neither 
coarseness nor foolishness ; for intellectual converse a man can't really 
have with women. Woman is antagonistic to it. An emotional truth 
is quite as plain to the childish mind, as to the mind of Herbert Spen- 
cer or of Clifford. The child and the God come equally near to the 
Eternal truth. • But then marriage in a complex civilisation is really 
a terrible problem; there are so many questions involved." 

As summer advanced Hearn found his little two-storeyed 
house by the Ohasigawa — although dainty as a birdcage — 
too cramped for comfort, the rooms being scarcely higher 
than steamship cabins, and so narrow that ordinary mos- 
quito nets could not be suspended across them. 

On the summit of the hill above Matsue stood the an- 
cient castle of the former daimyo of the province. In 
feudal days, when the city was under military sway, the 
finest homesteads of the Samurai clustered round its Cy- 
clopean granite walls; now owing to changed conditions 
and the straitened means of their owners, many of these 



KatcJiiu-yashiki were untenanted. Hearn and his wife 
were lucky enough to secure one. Though he no longer 
had his outlook over the lake, with the daily coming and 
going of fishing-boats and sampans, he had an extended 
view of the city and was close to the university. But 
above all he found compensation in the spacious Japanese 
garden, outcome of centuries of cultivation and care. 

The summer passed in this Japanese Yashiki was as 
happy as any in Hearn ^s life, and one to which he per- 
petually looked back with longing regret. Wandering 
from room to room, sitting in sunned spaces where leaf 
shadows trembled on the matting, or gazing into the soft 
green, dreamy peace of the landscape garden, he found 
a sanctuary where the soul stopped elbowing and tramp- 
ling, and being elbowed and trampled — a free, clear space, 
where he could see clearly, breathe serenely, fully. Dis- 
cussions with publishers, differences of opinion with friends 
were soothed and forgotten; his domestic arrangements 
seemed all that he could have expected, and, as he was 
receiving a good salary, and life was not expensive in the 
old city, money difficulties for the moment receded into the 
back-ground. His health improved. He weighed, he said, 
twenty pounds more than he did when he first arrived 
. . . but, he adds, this is perhaps because I am eating 
three full meals a day instead of two. 

Echoes from the outer world reached him at intervals, 
such as the announcement of the marriage of Miss Eliza- 
beth Bisland. 

He describes himself as dancing an Indian war-dance of 
exultation in his Japanese robes, to the unspeakable aston- 
ishment of his placid household. After which he passed 
two hours in a discourse in ''the Hearnian dialect.'' Sub- 
ject of exultation and discourse — the marriage of Miss 
Elizabeth Bisland. 

Hearn 's description of the old Yashiki garden is done 



with all the descriptive charm of which he was a master. 
Many others have described Japanese gardens, but none 
have imparted the mental "atmosphere," the special pe- 
culiarities that make them so characteristic of the genius 
of the people that have originated them. It is impossible 
to find space to follow him into all the details of his 
' ' garden folk lore ' ' as he calls it ; of Eijo^ things without 
desire, such as stones and trees, and TJjOj things having 
desire, such as men and animals, the miniature hills clothed 
with old trees, the long slopes of green, shadowed by 
flowering shrubs, like river banks, verdant elevations rising 
from spaces of pale yellow sand, smooth as a surface of 
silk, miming the curves and meanderings of a river course. 
Much too beautiful, these sanded spaces, to be trodden on; 
the least speck of dirt would mar their effect, and it re- 
quired the trained skill of an experienced native gar- 
dener — a delightful old man — to keep them in perfect form. 

Lightly and daintily as the shadows of the tremulous 
leaves of the bamboo-grove and the summer light that 
touches the grey stone lanterns, and the lotus flowers on 
the pond, so does his genius flit from subject to subject, 
conjuring up and idealising ancient tradition and super- 
stitions. The whole of his work seems transfused with 
mystic light. 

We can hear him talking with Kinjuro, the venerable 
gardener; we can catch the song of the caged Uguisu, an 
inmate of the establishment, presented to him by one of the 
sweetest ladies in Japan, the daughter of the Governor of 

The Uguisu, or Japanese nightingale, is supposed to re- 
peat over and over again the sacred name of the Sutras, 
* ' Ho-ke-kyo, " or Buddhist confession of faith. First the 
warble; then a pause of about five seconds, then a slow, 
sweet, solemn utterance of the holy name. 

They planted, his wife tells us, some morning glories 



in summer. He watched them with the greatest delight, 
until they bloomed, and then was equally wretched when 
he saw them withering. 

One early winter morning he noticed one tiny bloom, 
in spite of the sharp frost; he was delighted and sur- 
prised, and exclaimed in Japanese, "Utsukushii yuki, 
anata, nanbo shojik" (What a lovely courage, what a se- 
rious intention). 

When, the next morning, the old gardener picked it, 
Hearn was in despair. *'That old man may be good and 
innocent, but he was brutal to my flower,'' he said. He 
was depressed all day after this incident. 

He had already, he declared, become a little too fond 
of his dwelling-place; each day after returning from his 
college duties and exchanging his teacher's uniform for 
the infinitely more comfortable 'Japanese robe, he found 
more than compensation for the weariness of five class- 
hours in the simple pleasure of squatting on the shady 
verandah overlooking the gardens. The antique garden 
walls, high mossed below their ruined coping of tiles, 
seemed to shut out even the murmur of the city's life. 
There were no sounds but the voices of birds, the shrilling 
of semi, or, at intervals, the solitary splash of a diving 
frog, and those walls secluded him from much more than 
city streets ; outside them hummed the changed Japan tele- 
graphs, and newspapers, and steam-ships. Within dwelt 
the all-reposing peace of nature, and the dreams of the 
sixteenth century; there was a charm of quaintness in 
the very air, a faint sense of something viewless and sweet; 
perhaps the gentle beauty of dead ladies who lived when all 
the surroundings were new. For they were the gardens 
of the past. The future would know them only as dreams, 
creations of a forgotten art, whose charm no genius could 

The working of Hearn 's heart and mind at this time 



is an interesting psychological study. He had been wont 
to declare that his vocation was a monastic one. He now 
initiated an asceticism as severe in its discipline as that 
of St. Francis of Assisi on the Umbrian hills. The code 
on which he moulded his life was formulated according to 
the teaching of the great Gautama. If the soul is to attain 
life and effect progress, continual struggle against tempta- 
tion is necessary. Appetites must be restrained. Indul- 
gence means retrogression. 

It is not without a sense of amusement that we ob- 
serve the complex personality, Lafcadio Hearn, in the 
Matsue phase of self-suppression and discipline. Well 
might Kinjuro, the old gardener, tell him that he had 
seven souls. A dignified university professor had taken 
the place of the erratic Bohemian who frequented the 
levee at Cincinnati, and of the starving little journalist 
who, arrayed in reefer coats, flannel shirt, and outlandish 
hat, used to appear in the streets of New Orleans. Now 
clad in official robes, he passed out through a line of pros- 
trate servants on his way to college, each article of cloth- 
ing having been handed to him, as he dressed, with endless 
bows of humility and submission by the daughter of a line 
of feudal nobles. 

He gives to his sister the same account of his austere, 
simple day, as to Basil Hall Chamberlain : the early morn- 
ing prayer and greeting of the sun, his meals eaten alone 
before the others, the prayers again at eventide, some of 
them said for him as head of the house. Then the little 
lamps of the kami before the shrine were left to bum until 
they went out; while all the household waited for him to 
give the signal for bedtime, unless, as sometimes, he be- 
came so absorbed in writing as to forget the hour. 

Sometimes, however, in spite of severe discipline and 
mortification of the flesh, ghostly reminders returned to 
prove that the old self was very real indeed. 



The "Markham Girl" is certainly well done. *'I asked 
myself: *If it was I?' and conscience answered: *If it 
was you, in spite of love, and duty, and honour, and Hell 
fire staring you in the face, you would have gone after 
her. . . .' " Then he adds a tirade as to his being a 
liar and quibbler when he attempts to contradict the state- 
ment, **and that's why I am poor and unsuccessful, void 
of mental balance, and an exile in Japan. ' ' 

Or a sinister note is struck, as in a letter to Basil Hall 
Chamberlain, alluding to a story in Goethe's **Wilhelm 
Meister," **The New Melusine," of which the application 
is apparent. A man was loved by a fairy; and she told 
him she must either say good-bye, or that he must become 
little like herself and go to dwell with her in her father's 
kingdom. She put a gold ring on his finger that made 
him small, and they entered into their tiny world. The 
man was greatly petted by the fairy folk, and had every- 
thing given to him which he could desire. In spite of 
it all, however, although he had a pretty child too, he be- 
came ungrateful and selfish and got tired, and dreamed 
of being a giant. He filed the ring off his finger, and be- 
came big again, and ran away to spend the gold in riotous 
living. **The fairy was altogether Japanese — don't you 
think so ? And the man was certainly a detestable fellow." 

Though the little man permitted himself such outbursts 
as this on paper, he soon crept back to the grim reality of 
a wooden pillow and Japanese food; back to a kingdom 
undisturbed by electrical storms of passion, to interviews 
with college students and communion with a wife whose 
knowledge was circumscribed by Kanbara's *' Greater 
Knowledge for "Women." 

** Never be frightened at anything but your own heart," 
he writes to one of these Matsue pupils, when giving him 
good advice some years later. Poor Lafcadio ! Good rea- 
son had he to be frightened of that wild, wayward, un- 



disciplined heart that so often had betrayed him in days 
gone by. 

When in Japan we heard whispers of Hearn having 
fallen a victim to the wiles of the accomplished ladies who 
abide in the street of the Geisha. After his marriage to 
Setsu Koizumi, however, not even from his enemies, and 
their name was legion, at Kumamoto, Kobe, or Tokyo, 
did we ever hear the faintest suggestion of scandal con- 
nected with his name. In Japan, where there is no privacy 
of any sort in everyday life, where, if a man is faithless to 
his wife, all the quarter where he lives knows of it, and 
the wife accepts it as her Ingwa — or sin in a former state 
of existence — it would have been impossible for Hearn to 
have stepped over the line, however tentatively, without 
its being known and talked about. 

A pleasant vision is the one we conjure up of him on 
the verandah of the old Yashiki, squatted, Buddha-wise, 
smoking a tiny long-stemmed Japanese pipe, his little wife 
seated near him, relating, by the aid of the interpreter, 
the superstitions and legends of the ancient Province of the 

She tells us how he took even the most trivial tale to 
heart, murmuring, **How interesting," his face sometimes 
even turning pale while he looked fixedly in front of him. 

Under these conditions of tranquillity and well-being 
his genius seemed to expand and develop. The **Shira- 
byoshi,"^ or ''Dancing Girl," the finest piece of imagina- 
tive work he ever did, was conceived and written during 
the course of the summer passed in the old Yashiki. Its 
first inception is indicated in a letter to Basil Hall Cham- 
berlain, in 1891. ** There was a story some time ago in 
the Asahi-shimbun^ about a ' Shirabyoshi, ' that brought 

1 "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan," Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 

2 Tlie Asahi-shimbun was one of the principal Japanese illustrated 
daily papers, printed and published at Osaka. 



tears to my eyes, as slowly and painfully translated by a 
friend. ' ' 

The "Dancing Girl" has been translated into four for- 
eign languages — German, Swedish, French and Italian— 
a writer in the Bevue des Deux Mondes declares it to be 
one of the love-stories of the world. The only remarka- 
ble fact is, that it has not made more of a stir in England. 

The hero is the well-laiown Japanese painter Buncho; 
the heroine a Geisha. There is something simple, natural, 
tragic and yet intangible and ethereal in the manner in 
which Hearn tells it; the presence of a vital spirit, the 
essential element of passion and regret, the throb of warm 
human emotion, in spite of its exotic setting, brings it into 
kinship with the human experience of all times and coun- 
tries. There is no attempt at scenery, only a woman hid- 
den away in the heart of nature, in a lonely cottage amongst 
the hills, with her love, her memory, her regret. Into this 
solitary life enters youth, attractive, beautiful, the possi- 
bility of further romance; but no romance other than the 
one she cherishes is for her. 

Unfortunately it is only possible to give the merest sketch 
of the story that Hearn unfolds with consummate ar- 
tistic skill. He begins with an account of dancing-girls, 
of the education they have to undergo, how they use 
their accomplishments to cast a web of enchantment over 

It is one of these apparently soulless creatures, a dancing- 
girl, a woman of the town, wearing clothes belonging 
neither to maid nor wife, that he makes the central figure 
of his story; and by her constancy to ideal things, her 
pure and simple passion, he thrills us through with the 
sense of the impermanence of humanity and beauty, and 
the strength of love overcoming and conquering the tragedy 
of life. 

How different the manner in which he treats the scenes 



between the young man and the beautiful dancing-girl, 
compared to the manner in which his French prototypes — 
in which Pierre Loti, for instance, whom Ilearn declares 
to be one of the greatest living artists — would have treated 
it. Far ahead has he passed beyond them; the moral, the 
life of the soul, is never lost sight of, in not one line does 
he play on the lower emotions of his readers. 

A young artist was travelling on foot over the moun- 
tains from Kj^oto to Yeddo, and lost his way. ... He 
had almost resigned himself to passing the night under 
the stars, when, down the farther slope of the hill, a single 
thin yellow ray of light fell upon the darkness. Making 
his way towards it, he found that it was a small cottage, 
apparently a peasant's house. . . . Not until he had 
knocked and called several times, did he hear any stir. At 
last, however, a feminine voice asked what he wanted. 
He told her, and after a brief delay the storm doors were 
pushed open and a woman appeared with a paper lantern. 
She scrutinised him in silence, and then said briefly, 
''Wait, I will bring water." Having w^ashed from his 
feet the dust of travel, he was shown into a neat room, 
and a brazier w^as set before him, and a cotton zdhuton 
for him to kneel upon. He was struck by the beauty of his 
hostess, as well as by her goodness, when she told him that 
he might stay there that night. . . . ''I will have no 
time to sleep to-night," she said, ''therefore you can have 
my bed and paper mosquito curtain." 

After he had slept a while, the mysterious sound of 
feet moving rapidly fell upon his ears; he slipped out of 
bed, and creeping to the edge of the screen, peeped through. 
There before her illuminated Biitsudan, he saw the young 
woman dancing. Turning suddenly she met his eyes, but 
before he had time to speak, she smiled: "You must 
have thought me mad when you saw me dancing, and I 
am not angry with you for trying to find out what I was 



doing." Then she went on to tell him how a youth and 
she had fallen in love with one another, and how they had 
gone away and built the cottage in the mountains, and each 
evening she had danced to please him. One cold winter 
he fell sick and died; since then she had lived alone with 
nothing to console her but the memory of her lover, laying 
daily before his tablet the customary offerings, and nightly 
dancing to please his spirit. 

After she had told her tale, she begged the young man 
to go back and try again to sleep. 

On leaving next morning, he wanted to pay for the hos- 
pitality he had received. *'What I did was done for kind- 
ness alone, and it certainly was not worth money, ^' she 
said, as she dismissed him. Then, pointing out the path 
he had to follow, she watched him until he passed from 
sight, his heart, as he went, full of the charm and beauty 
of the woman he had left behind. 

Many years passed by ; the painter had become old, and 
rich, and famous. One day there came to his house an old 
woman, who asked to speak with him. The servants, think- 
ing her a common beggar, turned her away, but she came 
so persistently that at last they had to tell their master. 
When, at his orders, the old woman was admitted, she 
began untying the knots of a bundle she had brought with 
her ; inside were quaint garments of silk, a wonderful cos- 
tume, the attire of a Sliirahyoshi, 

With many beautiful and pathetic touches, Heam tells 
how, as he watched her smooth out the garments with her 
trembling fingers, a memory stirred in the master 's brain ; 
again in the soft shock of recollection, he saw the lonely 
mountain dwelling in which he had received unremuner- 
ated hospitality, the faintly burning light before the Bud- 
dhist shrine, the strange beauty of a woman dancing there 
alone in the dead of the night. *' Pardon my rudeness 
for having forgotten your face for the moment,'' he said, 



as he rose and bowed before her, ''but it is more than 
forty years since we last saw each other; you received me 
at your house. You gave up to me the only bed you had. 
I saw you dance and you told me all your story. ' ' 

The old woman, quite overcome, told him that, in the 
course of years, she had been obliged, through poverty, 
to part with her little house, and, becoming weak and old, 
could no longer dance each evening before the Butsudan, 
Therefore, she had sought out the master, since she de- 
sired for the sake of the dead a picture of herself in the 
costume and attitude of the dance that she might hang 
it up before the Butsudan. *'I am not now as I was then," 
she added. * ' But, oh, master, make me young again. 
Make me beautiful that I may seem beautiful to him, for 
whose sake I, the unworthy, beseech this!" 

He told her to come next day, and that he only would 
be too delighted to thus repay the debt he had owed her 
for so many years. So he painted her, as she had been 
forty years before. When she saw the picture, she clasped 
her hands in delight, but how was she ever to repay the 
master? She had nothing to offer but her Shirahyoshi 
garments. He took them, saying he would keep them as 
a memory, but that she must allow him to place her beyond 
the reach of want. 

No money would she accept, but thanking him again 
and again, she went away with her treasure. The master 
had her followed, and on the next day took his way to 
the district indicated amidst the abodes of the poor and 
outcast. He tapped on the door of the old woman 's dwell- 
ing, and receiving no answer pushed open the shutter, and 
peered through the aperture. As he stood there the sen- 
sation of the moment when, as a tired lad, forty years 
before, he had stood, pleading for admission to the lone- 
some little cottage amongst the hills, thrilled back to him. 

Entering softly, he saw the woman lying on the floor 



seemingly asleep. On a rude shelf he recognised the an- 
cient Butsudan with its tablet, and now, as then, a tiny- 
lamp was burning ; in front of it stood the portrait he had 

*'The master called the sleeper's name once or twice. 
Then, suddenly, as she did not answer, he saw that she 
was dead, and he wondered while he gazed upon her face, 
for it seemed less old. A vague sweetness, like the ghost 
of youth, had returned to it ; the wrinkles and the lines of 
sorrow had been strangely smoothed by the touch of a 
phantom Master mightier than he. ' ' 



"Of course Urashima was bewildered by the gods. But who is not 
bewildered by the gods? What is Life itself but a bewilderment? 
And Urashima in his bewilderment doubted the purpose of the gods, 
and opened the box. Then he died without any trouble, and the 
people built a shrine to him as Urashima Mio-jin. . . . 

"These are quite differently managed in the West. After disobey- 
ing Western gods, we have still to i-emain alive and to learn the 
height and the breadth and the depth of superlative sorrow. We are 
not allowed to die quite comfortably just at the best possible time: 
much less are we suffered to become after death small gods in our 
own right. How can we pity the folly of Urashima after he had lived 
so long alone with visible gods ? 

"Perhaps the fact that we do may answer the riddle. This pity 
must be self-pity ; wherefore the legend may be the legend of a myriad 
souls. The thought of it comes just at a particular time of blue ly^ht 
and soft wind, — and always like an old reproach. It has too inti- 
mate relation to a season and the feeling of a season not to be also 
related to something real in one's life, or in the lives of one's an- 

Only for a year did Hearn's sojourn in Fairyland last. 
The winter following his arrival was a very severe one. 
The northern coast of Japan lies open to the Arctic winds 
blowing over the snow-covered plains of Siberia. Heavy- 
falls of snow left drifts five feet high round the Yashiki 
on the hill. The large rooms, so delightful in the summer 
with their verandah opening on the garden, were cold as 
*' cattle barns" in winter, with nothing but charcoal bra- 
ziers to heat them. He dare not face another such ex- 
perience, and asked, if possible, to be transferred to 
warmer quarters. Aided again by his friend. Professor 



Chamberlain, the authorities at Tokyo were induced to give 
him the professorship of English at the Imperial Univer- 
sity at Kumamoto. 

Kumamoto is situated in Kyushu, facing Formosa and 
the Chinese coast; the climate, therefore, is much milder 
than that of Matsue. Here, however, began Hearn's first 
disillusionment; like Urashima Taro, having dwelt within 
the precincts of ^'airyland he felt the shock of returning 
to Earth again. The city struck him as being ugly and 
commonplace, a half-Europeanised garrison town, resound- 
ing to the sounds of bugles and the drilling of soldiers, in- 
stead of pilgrim songs and temple bells. *'But Lord! I 
must try to make money ; for nothing is sure in Japan and 
I am now so tied down to the country that I can't quit 
it, except for a trip, whether the Government employs me 
or not." 

He began to look back with regret to the days passed 
at Matsue. *'You must travel out of Izumo," he said, 
** after a long residence, and find out how unutterably 
different it is from other places, — for instance, this coun- 
try . . . the charming simplicity of the Izumo folk 
does not here exist." 

All his Izumo servants had accompanied him to his new 
quarters, and apparently all his wife's family, for he men- 
tions the fact that he has nine lives dependent upon him : 
wife, wife's mother, wife's father, wife's adopted mother, 
wife's father's father, then servants, and a Buddhist stu- 

This wouldn't do in America, he says to Ellwood Hen- 
drik, but it is nothing in Japan. The moral burden, how- 
ever, was heavy enough; he indulged in the luxury of 
filial piety, and it was impossible to let a little world grow 
up round him, to depend on him, and then break it all 
up — the good and evil results of '* filial piety" are only 
known to orientals, and an oriental he had now become. 



His people felt like fish out of water, everything surround- 
ing them was so different from their primitive home in 
Izumo. A goat in the next yard, '^mezurasliii kedaynono/' 
filled his little wife with an amused wonder. Some geese 
and a pig also filled her with surprise, such animals did 
not exist in the highlands of Japan. 

The Kumamoto Government College was one of the 
largest in Japan, — came next, indeed, to the Imperial Uni- 
versity in Tokyo in importance. It was run on the most 
approved occidental lines. A few of the boys still ad- 
hered to their Japanese dress, but most of them adopted 
the military uniform now, as a rule, worn in Japanese 
colleges. There were three classes, corresponding with 
three higher classes of the Jinjo Chugakko — and two higher 
classes. He did not now teach on Saturdays. There were 
no stoves — only hihachi. The library was small, and the 
English books were not good. There was a building in 
which Jiu-jitsu was taught; and separate buildings for 
sleeping, eating, and bathing. The bath-room was a sur- 
prise. Thirty or forty students could bathe at the same 
time ; and four hundred could sit down to meals in the great 
dining-hall. There was a separate building, also, for the 
teaching of chemistry, natural history, etc. ; and a small 

Hearn apparently foregathered with none of the masters 
of the college, except the old teacher of Chinese. The 
others he simply saluted morning and evening, and in the 
intervals between classes sat in a corner to himself smoking 
his pipe. 

**You talk of being without intellectual companion- 
ship!" he writes to Hendrik. ''OH YE EIGHT HUN- 
DRED MYRIADS OF GODS! What would you do if 
you were me? Lo! The illusion is gone! Japan in 
Kyushu is like Europe — except I have no friend. The 
differences in ways of thinking, and the difficulties of lan- 



guage, render it impossible for an educated Japanese to 
find pleasure in the society of a European. My scholars 
in this great Government school are not boys, but men. 
They speak to me only in class. The teachers never speak 
to me at all. I go to the college and return after class, — 
always alone, no mental company but books. But at home 
everything is sweet." 

In consequence of this isolation, or because of the soften- 
ing influence of matrimony, here at Kumamoto he seemed 
for the first time to awake to the fact of having relations 
in that distant western land he had left so many years 
before. ' ' Our soul, or souls, ever wanders back to its own 
kindred," he says to his sister. 

His father, Charles Bush Hearn, had left three children 
by his second wife (daughters), all born in India. In- 
valided home, Charles Hearn had died, in the Red Sea, of 
Indian fever; the three orphan children and his widow 
continued their journey to Ireland. 

At their mother's death, which occurred a few years 
later, the girls were placed under the guardianship of va- 
rious members of the family ; two of them ultimately mar- 
ried; one of them a Mr. Brown, the other a Mr. Buckley 
Atkinson. The unmarried one. Miss Lillah Hearn, went 
out to Michigan in America, to stop with Lafcadio's 
brother, and her own half-brother, Daniel James Hearn, 
or Jim, as he was usually called. 

Public interest was gradually awakening with regard to 
Japanese affairs. Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain's and 
Satow 's books were looked upon as standard works to refer 
to for information concerning the political and social affairs 
of the extraordinary little people who were working their 
way to the van in the Far East. But, above all, Lafcadio 
Hearn 's articles contributed to the Atlantic Monthly, after- 
wards published under the title of *' Glimpses of Unfa- 
miliar Japan," had claimed public attention. 



Miss Lillali Hearn was the first member of the family 
to write to this half-brother, who was becoming so fa- 
mous, but received no answer. Then Mrs. Brown, the 
other sister, approached him, silence greeted her efforts 
as well. On hearing of his marriage to a Japanese lady, 
Mrs. Atkinson, the youngest sister, wrote. Whether it 
was that she softened the exile's heart in his expatriation 
by that sympathy and innate tact wliich are two of her 
distinguished qualities, it is impossible to say, but her letter 
was answered. 

This strange relative of theirs who had gone to Japan, 
adopted Japanese dress and habits, and married a Japan- 
ese lady, had become somewhat of a legendary character to 
his quiet-going Irish kindred. The arrival of the first 
letter, therefore, was looked upon as quite an event and 
was passed from house to house, and hand to hand, becom- 
ing considerably mutilated in its journeyings to and fro. 
The first page is entirely gone, and the second page so 
erased and torn that it is only decipherable here and there. 
We are enabled to put an approximate date to it by his 
reference to Miss Bisland's marriage, of which he had 
heard towards the end of his stay at Matsue. 

*'I have written other things, but am rather ashamed 
of them," he adds. *'So Miss Bisland has married and 
become Mrs. Wetmore. She is as rich at least as she 
could wish to be, but I have not heard from her for more 
than a year. I suppose friendship ends with marriage. 
If my sister was not married, I think — I only think — I 
would feel more brotherly. 

*'Well, I will say au revoir. Many thanks for the 
letter you wrote me. I would like Please 

give me you can. Don't think 

busy to write — much I teach for 

a week — English and Elementary 

Latin : the time I study and 



write for pleasure, not for profit. There isn't nrncli profit 
in literature unless, as a novelist, one happens to please 
a popular taste, — ^which isn't good taste. Some exceptions 
there are, like Rudyard Kipling ; but your brother has not 
his inborn genius for knowing, seizing and painting 
human nature. Love to you and yours — from 

*'Lafcadio Hearn. 
''Tetorihomnatu 34, 

^'Kumamoto, Kyushu, 

Mrs. Atkinson replied immediately, thus beginning a 
series of delightful letters, which alas! relate, so many of 
them, to intimate family affairs that it is impossible to 
publish them in their original form. 

**My sweet little sister,'' he wrote in answer, **your 
letter was more than personally grateful: it had also an 
unexpected curious interest for me, as a revelation of 
things I did not know. I don't know anything of my 
relations — ^their names, places, occupations, or even num- 
ber : therefore your letter interested me in a peculiar way, 
apart from its amiable charm. Before I talk any more, 
I thank you for the photographs. They have made me 
prouder than I ought to be. I did not know that I had 
such nice kindred and such a fairy niece. My wife stole 
your picture from me almost as soon as I had received it, 
to caress it, and pray to Buddha and all the ancient gods 
to love the original: she has framed it in a funny little 
Japanese frame, and suspended it in that sacred part of 
the house, called the Toko, a sort of alcove, in which only 
beautiful things are displayed. Formerly the gods were 
placed there (many hundred years ago) ; but now the gods 
have a separate shrine in the household, and the Toko is 
only the second Holy place. . . ." 

The next letter is dated June 27th, '92, 25th year of 










Mrs. Atkinson (Hearn's Half-sister). 


**Dear sister, I love you a little bit more on hearing 
that you are little. The smaller you are the more I will 
be fond of you. As for marriage being a damper upon 
affection between kindred, it is true only of Occidental 
marriages. The Japanese wife is only the shadow of her 
husband, infinitely unselfish and naive in all things. . . . 

''If you want me to see you soon, you must pray to the 
Occidental gods to make me suddenly rich. However, I 
doubt if they have half as much influence as the gods of 
Japan, — who are helping me to make a bank account as 
fast as honest work can produce such a result. I have no 
babies ; and don 't expect to have, and may be able to cross 
the seas one of these days to linger in your country a 
while. But really I don't know. I drift with the cur- 
rent of events. 

*'As for my book on Japan, — ^my first book, — there is 
much to do yet, — it ought to be out in the Fall. It will be 
called ' ' Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, ' ' and will treat of 
strange things. 

"I would like to see you very much; for you are too 
tantalizing in your letters, and tell me nothing about your 
inner self. I want to find out what the angel shut up in 
your heart is like. No doubt very sweet, but I would like 
to pull it out, and stroke its wings, and make it chipper a 
little. As for the little ones, make them love me; for if 
they see me without previous discipline, they will be afraid 
of my ugly face when I come — I send you a photo of one- 
half of it, the other is not pleasant, I assure you : like the 
moon, I show only one side of m3"self. In Spanish coun- 
tries they call me Leueadio — much easier for little folk to 
pronounce. By the way, you never gave me your address, 
— sign of impulsive haste, like my own. 

''With best love, 

*'Lafcadio Heabn.'' 



Then in January, 1903, he writes again, **Your kind 
sweet letter reached me at Christmas time, where there is 
no Christmas. Don't you know that you are very happy 
to be able to live in England? I am afraid you do not. 
Perhaps you could not know without having lived much 
elsewhere. . . . Your photo has come. The same eyes, 
the same chin, brow, nose : we are strangely alike — except- 
ing that you are very comely, and I very much the re- 
verse — partly by exaggeration of the traits which make 
your face beautiful, and partly because I am disfigured by 
the loss of an eye — punched out at school. ... Won't 
you please give my kindest thanks to your husband for the 
pains he has taken to please me ! I hope to meet him some 
day, and thank him in person, if I don't leave my bones in 
some quaint and curious Buddhist cemetery out here. ..." 

The wonderful series of letters to Professor Hall 
Chamberlain, recently published by Miss Bisland, are also 
written from Kumamoto and Kobe, and to a great extent 
run simultaneously with those to his sister. He had a habit 
of repeating himself ; the same expressions, the same quota- 
tions, appear in both series, and sometimes are again re- 
peated in his published essays. When struck by an idea 
or incident, it seems as if he must impart it as something 
noteworthy to every one with whom he was holding com- 
munion. He gives, for instance, the same account to his 
sister of the routine of his Japanese day as related to 
Professor Hall Chamberlain and Ellwood Hendrik. 

We can imagine his rigidly Protestant Irish relations 
amidst the conventional surroundings of an Irish country 
house, following minutely the services of the established 
church as preached to them by their local clergyman, 
utterly bewildered in reading the description of the out- 
landish cult to which he, their relation, subscribed in 
Japan. The awakening to the rising of the sun with the 
clapping of hands of servants in the garden, the prayers 



at the Biitsudan, the putting out the food for the dead, all 
the strange, quaint customs that mark the passing of the 
day in the ancient Empire of Nippon. Not by thousands 
of miles only was he separated from his occidental rela- 
tions, but by immemorial centuries of thought. 

On May 21st, 1893, there is another letter to his sister, 
Mrs. Atkinson, in which he first announces his expectation 
of becoming a father. It is so characteristic of Lafcadio to 
take it for granted that the child would be a boy, and 
already to make plans for his education abroad. 

*'Tsuboi, Nichihorahata 35, Kumamoto, 
"Kyushu, Japan. 

May -list, '93. 

*'My Dear Minnie: 

'* (I think ^sister' is too formal, I shall call you by your 
pet name hereafter.) First let me thank you very, very 
much for the photographs. I was extremely pleased with 
that of your husband; — and thought at once, 'Ah! the 
lucky girl!' For your husband, my dear Sis, is no ordi- 
nary man. There are faces that seen for the first time 
leave an impression which gives the whole of the man, 
ineffaceahly. And they are rare. I think I know your 
husband already, admire him and love him, — not simply 
for your sake, but for his own. He [is] all man, — and 
strong, — a good oak for your ivy. I don't mean physical 
strength, though he seems (from the photograph) to have 
an uncommon amount of it, but strength of character. 
You can feel pretty easy about the future of your little 
ones with such a father. (Don't read all this to him, 
though, — or he will think I am trying to flatter either him 
or you, — though, of course, you can tell him something of 
the impression his photo gives me, in a milder form.) 
And you don 't know what the real impression is, — nor how 
it is enhanced by the fact that I have been for three years 
isolated from all English or European intercourse, — never 



see an English face, except that of some travelling mis- 
sionary, which is apt to be ignoble. The Oriental face is 
somewhat inscrutable, — like the faces of the Buddhist gods. 
In youth it has quite a queer charm, — ^the charm of mys- 
terious placidity, of smiling calm. (But among the 
modernised, college-bred Japanese this is lost.) What one 
never — or hardly ever — sees among these Orientals is a 
face showing strong character. The race is strangely im- 
personal. The women are divinely sweet in temper; the 
men are mysteries, and not altogether pleasant. I feel 
myself in exile; and your letters and photographs only 
make me homesick for English life, — just one plunge into 
it again. 

*' — Will I ever see you? Really I don't know. Some 
day I should like to visit England, — provided I could 
assure myself of sufficient literary work there to justify a 
stay of at least half-a-year, and the expense of the voyage. 
Eventually that might be possible. I would never go as 
a mere guest — not even a sister 's ; but I should like to be 
able to chat with the sister occasionally on leisure-evenings. 
I am quite a savage on the subject of independence, let me 
tell you; and would accept no kindnesses except those of 
your company at intervals. But all this is not of to-day. 
I cannot take my wife to Europe, it would be impossible 
to accustom her to Western life, — indeed it would be cruel 
even to try. But I may have to educate my child abroad, 
— which would be an all-powerful reason for the voyage. 
However, I would prefer an Italian, French, or Spanish 
school-life to an English one. 

" — Oh yes, about the book — 'Glimpses of Unfamiliar 
Japan' is now in press. It will appear in two volumes, 
without illustrations. The publishers are Houghton, 
Mifflin & Co., of Boston, — the best in America. Whether 
you like the book or no, I can't tell. I have an idea you 
do not care much about literary matters ; — that you are too 



much wife and mother for that; — that your romances and 
poetry are in your own home. And such romance and 
poetry is the best of all. However, if you take some in- 
terest in trying to look at ME between the lines, you may 
have patience to read the work. Don't try to read it, if 
you don't like. 

'' — But here is something you might do for me, as I 
am not asking for certain friendly offices. When the book 
is criticised, you might kindly send me a few of the best 
reviews. Miss Bisland, while in London, wrote me the 
reviews of some of my other books had been very kindly; 
but she never dreamed of supplementing this pleasant in- 
formation by cutting out a few specimens for me. — By 
the way, she has married well, you know, — has become 
awfully rich and fashionable, and would not even conde- 
scend to look at me if she passed me in Broadway — I 
suppose. But she well deserved her good fortune; 
for she was certainly one of the most gifted girls I ever 
knew, and has succeeded in everything — against immense 
obstacles — with no help except that of her own will and 

'' — And now I must give you a lecture. I don't want 
more than one sister, — haven't room in my heart for more. 
All appear to be as charming as they are sweet looking. I 
am interested to hear how they succeed, etc., etc. But 
don't ask me to write to everybody, and don't show every- 
body my letters. I can't diffuse myself very far. You 
said you would be *my favourite.' A nice way you go 
about it! Suppose I tell you that I am a very jealous, 
nasty brother; and that if I can't have one sister by her- 
self I don't want any sister at all! Would that be very, 
very naughty? But it is true. And now you can be 
shocked just as much as you please. 

** — Yes, I have lost an eye, and look horrible. The 
operation in Dublin did not cause the disfigurement, but 



a blow, or rather the indirect results of a blow, received 
from a play-fellow. 

*' — You ask me if I should like a photograph of father. 
I certainly should, if you can procure me one without 
trouble. I hope — much more than to see England, — to 
visit India, and try to find some tradition of him. I did 
not know positively, until last year, that father had been 
in the West Indies. When I went there, I had the queer- 
est, ghostliest sensation of having seen it all before. I 
think I should experience even stranger sensations in India ! 
The climate would be agreeable for me. Remember, I 
passed fourteen years of my life south of winter. The 
first snow I saw from 1876 to 1890 was on my way through 
Canada to Japan. Indeed, if ever I become quite inde- 
pendent, I want to return to the tropics. 

*' Enough to tire your eyes, — isn't it? — for this time. 

* ' Ever affectionately, 

"Lafcadio Hearn. 

*'In the names of the eight hundred myriads of Gods, — 
do give me your address. The only way I have been able 
to write you is by finding the word Portadown in Whit- 
taker's Almanac. You are a careless, naughty ^Sis.' 
*'I enclose my name and address in Japanese. 
*'Yakumo Koizume, 


''Nichihoralata 35, 

"Kumamoto, Kyushu." 

All the women are making funny little Japanese baby- 
clothes, and all the Buddhist Divinities, who watch over 
little children, are being prayed to. . . . "Letters of 
congratulation," he said, "were coming from all directions, 
for the expectation of a child is always a subject of great 
gladness in Japan. . . . Behind all this there is a 



universe of new sensations, revelations of things in Bud- 
dhist faith which are very beautiful and touching. About 
the world an atmosphere of delicious, sacred naivete, — 
difficult to describe because resembling nothing in the West- 
ern world. . . ." 

Hearn's account of his home before the birth of his son 
throws most interesting lights on Japanese methods of 
thought and daily life. He refers to the pretty custom of 
a woman borrowing a baby when she is about to become a 
mother. It is thought an honour to lend it. And it is ex- 
traordinarily petted in its new home. The one his wife 
borrowed was only six months old, but expressed in a 
supreme degree all the Japanese virtues; docile to the de- 
gree of going to sleep when bidden, and of laughing when 
it awakened. The eerie wisdom of its face seemed to sug- 
gest a memory of all its former lives. The incident he 
relates also of a little Samurai boy whom he and his wife 
had adopted is interesting as showing the Spartan disci- 
pline exercised over Japanese children from earliest youth, 
enabling them in later life to display that iron self-control 
that has astonished the world ; interesting, also, as showing 
how nothing escaped Hearn's quick observation and assidu- 
ous intellect. Hearn, at first, wanted to fondle the child, 
and make much of him, but he soon found that it was not 
in accordance with custom. He therefore ceased to take 
notice of him ; and left him under the control of the women 
of the house. Their treatment of him Hearn thought pecul- 
iar ; the little fellow was never praised and rarely scolded. 
One day he let a little cup fall and broke it. No notice was 
taken of the accident for fear of giving him pain. Sud- 
denly, though the face remained quite smilingly placid as 
usual, he could not control his tears. As soon as they saw 
him cry, everybody laughed and said kind things to him, 
till he began to laugh, too. But what followed was more 
surprising. Apparently he had been distantly treated. 



One day lie did not return from school until three hours 
after the usual time; suddenly the women began to cry — 
they were, indeed, more deeply affected than their treat- 
ment of the boy would have justified. The servants ran 
hither and thither in their anxiety to find him. It turned 
out that he had only been taken to a teacher's house for 
something relating to school matters. As soon as his voice 
was heard at the door, every one was quiet, cold, and dis- 
tantly polite again. 

On September 17th he writes again to his sister, thank- 
ing her for a copy she had sent him of the Saturday Re- 
view. ' ' You could send me nothing more pleasing, or more 
useful in a literary way. It is all the more welcome as I 
am really living in a hideous isolation, far away from 
books, and book-shops, and Europeans. When I can get — 
which I hope is the next year — into a more pleasant local- 
ity, I shall try to pick out some pretty Oriental tales to 
send to the little ones.'' He was not able, he goes on, to 
go far from Kumamoto, not liking to leave his little wife 
too long alone; so his vacation was rather monotonous. 
He travelled only as far as Nagasaki. It was quaint and 
pretty, but hotter than any West Indian port in the hot 
season. He was economising, he said, and had saved nearly 
three thousand five hundred dollars. Once he had pro- 
vided for his wife, he hoped to be able to make a few long 
voyages to places east of Japan. **You are much to be 
envied," he goes on to his sister, **for your chances of 
travel. What a pity you are not able to devote yourself 
to writing and painting in a place like Algiers — full of 
romance and picturesqueness. If you go there, don't fail 
to see the old Arab part of the city — the Kasbah, I think 
they call it. How about the Continent? Have you tried 
Southern Italy? And don't you think that one gets all 
the benefit of travel only by keeping away from fashion- 
resorts and places consecrated by conventionalism? Noth- 



ing to me is more frightful than a fashionable seaside re- 
sort — such as those of the Atlantic Coast. My happiest 
sojourns of this sort have been in little fishing villages, and 
little queer old unknown towns, where there are no big 
vulgar hotels, and where one can dress and do exactly as 
one pleases. 

**What wdll you do with your little man when he grows 
up? Army, or Civil Service? Whatever you do, never 
let him go to America, and lose all his traditions. Aus- 
tralia would be far better. I expect he will be gloriously 
well able to take care of himself anywhere, — judging by 
his father, but I have come to the belief that one cannot 
too soon begin the cultivation of a single aim and single 
talent in life. This is the age of specialism. No man can 
any longer be successful in many things. Even the 
* general practitioner' in medicine has almost become ob- 

*' Nothing seems to me more important now for a little 
boy than the training of his linguistic faculties, — giving 
him every encouragement in learning languages by ear — 
(the only natural way) ; and your travelling sometimes 
with him will help you to notice how his faculties are in 
that direction. But perhaps it will be possible for him to 
pass all his life in England. (For me, England, Ireland 
and Scotland mean the same thing. ) That would be pleas- 
ant indeed. . . . When I think of your little man with 
the black eyes, I hope that his life will always be in the 
circle of English traditions, wherever the English Flag 
flies, there remain. 

*'I suppose you know that in this Orient the construc- 
tion of the family is totally different to what it is in 
Europe. . . . We are too conceitedly apt to think that 
what is good for Englishmen is good for all nations, — our 
ethics, our religion, our costumes, etc. The plain facts of 
the case are that all Eastern races lose, instead of gaining, 



by contact with us. They imitate our vices instead of 
our virtues, and learn all our weaknesses without getting 
any of our strength. Already statistics show an enormous 
increase of crime in Japan as the result of * Christian 
civilisation'; and the open ports show a demoralisation 
utterly unknown in the interior of the country, and un- 
imaginable in the old feudal days before 1840 or 
1850. . . .'' 

In the next letter he gives his sister a minute account 
of his Japanese manner of life on the floor without chairs 
or tables. It has been described so often by visitors to 
Japan, and by Hearn himself, that it is unnecessary to 
repeat it here. He ends his letter; — 

**I am now so used to the Japanese way of living, that 
when I have to remain all day in Western clothes, I feel 
very unhappy : and I think I should not find European life 
pleasant in summer time. Some day, I will send you a 
photograph of my house. 

*'I wish you much happiness' and good health and 
pleasant days of travel, and thank you much for the paper. 

**This letter is rather rambling, but perhaps you will 
find something interesting in it. 

* ' Ever affectionately, 


In September comes another letter to Mrs. Atkinson: 
'*You actually talk about writing too often, — which is 
strange ! There is only this difficulty about writing, — that 
we both know so little of each other that topics interesting 
to both can be only guessed at. That should be only a 
temporary drawback. 

**The more I see your face in photos, the more I feel 
drawn toward you. Lillah and the other sister represent 
different moods and tenses pictorially. You seem most 
near to me, — as I felt on first reading your letter. You 



have strength, too, where I have not. You are certainly 
very sensitive, but also self -repressed. I think you are not 
inclined to make mistakes. I think you can be quickly 
offended, and quick to forgive — if you understand the 
offence to be only a mistake. You would not forgive at all 
should you discern behind the fault a something much 
worse than mistake, — and in this you would be right. 
You are inclined to reserve, and not to bursts of joy ; — you 
have escaped my extremes of depression and extremes of 
exultation. You see very quickly beyond the present rela- 
tions of a fact — I think all this. But of course you have 
been shaped in certain things by social influences I have 
never had, — so that you must have perfect poise where I 
would flounder and stumble. 

*'But imagining won't do always. I should like to know 
more of you than a photograph or a rare letter can tell. I 
don't know, remember, anything at all about you. I do 
not know where you were born, where you were educated, 
— anything of your life ; or what is much more, infinitely 
more important, I don't know your emotions and thoughts 
and feelings and experiences in the past. What you are 
now, I can guess. But what were you, — long ago ? What 
memories most haunt you of places and people you liked? 
If you could tell me some of these, how pleasantly we might 
compare notes. Mere facts tell little: the interest of per- 
sonality lies most in the infinitely special way that facts 
affect the person. I am very curious about you, — but, 
don 't take this too seriously ; because though my wishes are 
strong, my disinclination to cause you pain is stronger ; and 
you have told me that writing is sometimes fatiguing to 
you. It were so much better could we pass a day or two 

**You must not underrate yourself as you did in your 
last. Your few lines about the scenery, — short as they 
were, — convinced me that you could do something literary 



of a very nice sort had you the time and chance to give 
yourself to any such work. But I do not wish that you 
would — except to read the result ; for literary labour is ex- 
tremely severe work, even after the secret of method is 
reached. I am only beginning to learn; and to produce 
five pages means to write at least twenty-five. Enthusi- 
asms and inspirations have least to do with the matter. 
The real work is condensing, compressing, choosing, chang- 
ing, shifting words and phrases, — studying values of col- 
our and sound and form in words; and when all is done, 
the result satisfies only for a time. What I wrote six years 
ago, I cannot bear the sight of to-day. If I had been a 
genius, I wonder whether I would feel the same. 

*' Romances are not in novels, but in lives. Can you not 
tell me some of yours when you are feeling very, very 
well, and don 't know what to do ? What surprised me was 
your observation about 'sentimental' in your last letter, — 
and that upon such a worthy topic ! What can you think 
of me ? And here in this Orient, where the spirit of more 
ancient faiths enters into one's blood with the sense of 
the doctrine of filial piety, and the meaning of ancestor 
worship, — how very, very strange and cruel it seems to 
me that my little sister should be afraid of being thought 
sentimental about the photograph of her father! What 
self-repression does all this mean, and what iron influences 
in Western life — English life that I have almost forgot- 
ten! However, character loses nothing: under the ex- 
terior ice, the Western could only gain warmth and depth 
if it be of the right sort. I hope, nevertheless, my little 
sister will be just as * sentimental' as she possibly can 
when she writes to Japan, — and feel sure of more than 
sympathy and gratitude. Unless she means by * senti- 
mental' only something in regard to style of \\T:'iting — in 
which case I assure her that she cannot err. If she is 
afraid of being thought really sentimental, I should be 



much more afraid of meeting her, — for I should wish to 
say sweet things and to hear them, too, should I deserve. 

''At all events remember that you have given me some- 
thing very precious, — not only in itself, — but precious be- 
cause precious to you. And it shall never be lost, — in 
spite of earthquakes and possible fires." 

(The something he alludes to as ''very precious" was 
a photograph of their father, Charles Hearn, that Mrs. 
Atkinson had sent him.) 

" — I wish I could talk to you more about Father and 
India. I wish to ask a hundred thousand questions. But 
on paper it is difficult to express all one wishes to say. 
And letters of mere questions carry no joy with them, and 
no sympathy. So I shall not ask noio any more. And you 
must not tire your dear little aching head to write when 
you do not feel well. I shall write again soon. For a 
little while good-bye, with love and all sweet hope to you 

"Lafcadio Hearn. 


"Kyushu, Japan. 
"Ja/n. 30, '94." 

On November 17th, 1893, at one o'clock in the morning, 
Hearn 's eldest son, Leopold Kazuo Koizumi, was born. 

He declared that the strangest and strongest sensation 
of his life was hearing for the first time the cry of his 
own child. There was a strange feeling of being double; 
something more, also, impossible to analyse — the echo in 
a man's heart of all the sensations felt by all the fathers 
and mothers of his race at a similar instant in the past. 

A few weeks later he writes to his sister, giving her 
news about his son. "The physician says that from the 
character of his bones he ought to become very tall. He . 
is very dark. He has my nose and promises to have the 



Hearn eyebrows; but he has the Oriental eye. Whether 
he will be handsome or ugly, I can't tell: his little face 
changes every day ;— he has already looked like five differ- 
ent people. When first born, I thought him the prettiest 
creature I ever saw. But that did not last. I am so in- 
experienced in the matter of children that I cannot trust 
myself to make any predictions. Of course I find the 
whole world changed about me. . . . - 

''My wife," he goes on, "is quite well. Happily the old 
military caste to . which she belongs is a strong one, but 
how sacred and terrible a thing is maternity. When it 
was all over I felt very humble and grateful to the Un- 
knowable Power which had treated us so kindly. The pos- 
sibility of men being cruel to the women who bear their 
children seemed at the moment to darken existence. 

''I have received your last beautiful photograph — or I 
should say two: — the vignette is, of course, the most lov- 
able, but both are very, very nice. I gave the full-figure 
one to Setsu. She would like to have her boy grow up 
looking either like you or like Posey — but most like you. 
(Thanks also for the pretty photo of yourself and Posey: 
Posey is decidedly handsome.) But I fear my son can 
never be like either of you. He is altogether Oriental so 
far, — looks at me with the still calm Buddhist eyes of the 
Far East, and the soul of another race. Even his nose 
will never declare his Western blood; for the finest class 
of the Japanese offer many strongly aquiline faces. Setsu 
is a Samurai, and though her own features are the reverse 
of aquiline, there are aquiline faces among the kindred. 

* * I am awfully anxious that the boy should get to be like 
you. I have had your most beautiful photograph copied 
by a clever photographer here and have sent the copies to 
friends, saying, 'this is my sister; and this is the boy. I 
want him to look like her. ' You see I am proud of you, — 
not only as to the ghostly, but also as to the material part 



of you. Physiologically I am all Latin and Pagan, — even 
though my little boy 's eyes are bright blue. 

*'. . . It is really nonsense, sending such a thing as 
his photo at fifty-five days old, because the child changes 
so much every week. But you are my little sister. I have 
called him Leopold Kazuo Hearn — for European use and 
custom. Kazuo, in Japanese, signifies 'First of the Ex- 
cellent.' I have not registered him under that name, how- 
ever ; because by the law, if I registered my wife or son in 
the Consulate, both become English citizens, and lose the 
right to hold any property, or do any business in Japan, 
or even to live in the interior without a passport. I have, 
therefore, stopped at the Japanese marriage ceremony, and 
a publication of the fact abroad. In the present order I 
dare not deprive my folks of their nationality." 

Then some time later he writes : — 

**You ask for all kinds of news about Kajiwo. Well, 
he is now able to stand well, and is tremendously strong 
to all appearance. He tries to speak. *Aba' is the first 
word spoken by Japanese babes: it means * good-bye.' 
Here is a curious example of the contrast between West 
and East, — the child comes into the world saying fare- 
well. But this would be in accordance with Buddhist 
philosophy, — saying farewell to the previous life. 

**You are right about supposing that the birth of a son 
in Japan is an occasion of special rejoicing. All the baby 
clothes are ready long before birth — (except the orna- 
mental ones) — as the Kimono or little robe is the same 
shape for either sex {of children). But, when the child is 
born, if it be a girl, very beautiful clothes of bright col- 
ours, covered with wonderful pictures, are made for it. 
If it be a boy the colours are darker, and the designs dif- 
ferent. My little fellow's silken Kimono is covered with 
pictures of tortoises, storks, pine, and other objects typical 
of long life, prosperity, steadfastness, etc. This subject is 



enormously elaborate and complicated, — so that I cannot 
tell you all about it in a letter. 

"After the child is born, all friends and relatives bring 
presents, — and everybody comes to see and congratulate 
the mother. You would think this were a trial. I was 
afraid it would tire Setsu. But she was walking about 
again on the seventh day after birth. The strength of the 
boy is hers, — ^not mine. 

*'I was also worried about the physician. I wanted the 
chief surgeon of the garrison, — because I was afraid. He 
was a friend, and laughed at me. He said : ' If anything 
terrible should happen, call me, but otherwise don't worry 
about a doctor. The Japanese have managed these things 
in their own way for thousands of years without doctors: 
a woman or two will do.' So two women came, and all 
was well. I hated the old women first, but after their suc- 
cess, I became very fond of them, and hugged them in 
English style, which they could not understand." 

The kind dull veil that nature keeps stretched between 
mankind and the Unknown was drawn again. The world 
became to Hearn nearly the same as it had been before 
the birth of his child, and he could plan, he said, for the 
boy's future. He was afraid he might be near-sighted, 
and wondered if he would be intellectual. ' ' He was so 
proud of him," his wife says, "that whenever a guest, a 
student, or a fellow-professor called, he would begin talk- 
ing about him and his perfections mthout allowing his 
friend to get a word in. He perfectly frightened me with 
a hundred toys he brought home when he returned. ' ' 

After his son's birth, Hearn naturally became still more 
anxious to have Setsu registered legally as his wife, but 
he was always met by official excuses and delays. He was 
told that if he wished the boy to remain a Japanese citizen 
he must register him in the mother's name only. If he 
registered him in his own name his son became a foreign- 


Kazuo (Hearn's Son) and His Nurse. 


er. On the other hand, Hearn knew that if he nation- 
alised himself his salary would be reduced to a Japanese 

**I don't quite see the morality of the reduction," he 
says, ''for services should be paid according to the market 
value at least; — but there is no doubt it would be made. 
As for America, and my relatives in England, I am mar- 
ried: that has been duly announced. Perhaps I had bet- 
ter wait a few years and then become a citizen. Being a 
Japanese citizen would, of course, make no difference 
whatever as to my relations in any civilised countries 
abroad. It would only make some difference in an un- 
civilised country, — such as revolutionary South America, 
where English or French, or American protection is a 
good thing to have. But the long and the short of the 
matter is that I am anxious about Setsu's and the boy's 
interests: my own being concerned only at that point 
where their injury would be Setsu's injury." 

The only way out of the difficulty, he concluded, was to 
abandon his English nationality and adopt his wife's 
family name, Koizumi. As a prefix for his own personal 
use he selected the appellation of the Province of Izumo 
"Yakumo" (''Eight clouds," or the "Place of the Issu- 
ing of Clouds," the first word of the ancient, Japanese 
song "Ya-he-gaki"). 

On one of his letters he shows his sister how his name 
is written in Japanese. 

Mrs. Atkinson's youngest child, Dorothy, was born in 
March, 1894. There is an interval of exactly four months 
between her and her cousin Kazuo. It is in reference to 
this event that the following letter was written: — 

" How sweet of you to get Mrs. or ]\Iiss Weatherall to 
write me the dear news ! You will be well by the time this 
reaches you, so that I may venture to write more than con- 



**I was quite anxious about you, — feeling as if you were 
the only real fellow-soul in my world but one : — and birth 
is a thing so much more terrible than all else in the uni- 
verse—more so than death itself — that the black border 
round the envelope made my heart cold for a moment. I 
had forgotten the why. Now I hope you will not have 
any more sons or daughters ; you have- three, — and I trust 
you will have no more pain or trouble. As for me, I am 
very resolved not to become a father again. 

*'You will laugh at me, and perhaps think it very 
strange that when only thirty-five I began to feel a kind 
of envy of friends with children. I knew their troubles, 
anxieties, struggles; but I saw their sons grow up, beau- 
tiful and gifted men, and I used to whisper to myself, — 
*But I never shall have a child.' Then it used to seem to 
me that no man died so utterly as the man without chil- 
dren: for him I fancied (like some folk still really think 
in other lands) that death would be utter eternal black- 
ness. When I did, however, hear the first cry of my boy 
— my boy, dreamed about in forgotten years — I had for 
that instant the ghostly sensation of being double. Just 
then, and only then, I did not think, — but felt, *I am 
TWO.' It was weird but gave me thoughts that changed 
all pre-existing thoughts. My boy's gaze still seems to 
me a queer ly beautiful thing; I still feel I am looking at 
myself when he looks at me. Only the thought has be- 
come infinitely more complicated. For I think about all 
the dead who live in the little heart of him — races and 
memories diverse as East and West. But who made his 
eyes blue and his hair brown? And will he be like you? 
And will he ever see the little cousin who has just entered 
the world? The other day, for one moment, he looked 
just like your boy in the picture. ' ' 

Mrs. Atkinson about this time went through private 
trials upon which it is unnecessary to touch here. The 



following letter of consolation and encouragement was 
written to her by her half-brother : — 

"Well, you too have had your revelations, — which means 
deep pains. One must pay a terrible price to see and to 
know. Still, the purchase is worth making. You know 
the Emerson lines: — 

"Though thou love her as thyself. 
As a self of purer clay; 
Though her parting dims the day. 
Stealing grace from all alive, 
Heartily know 
When half-Gods go. 
The Gods arrive! . . . 


Reverse the condition: the moral is the same, — and it 
is eternal. By light alone one cannot see; there must be 
shadows in multitude to help. What we love is good, and 
exists, but often exists only in us^ — ^then we become an- 
gry at others, not knowing the illusion was the work of 
the Gods. The Gods are always right. They make us 
sometimes imagine that something we love ever so much 
is in others, while it is only in our own hearts. The rea- 
son they do this to some, like you and me, is to teach us 
what terrible long, long mistakes we might have made 
without their help. Sometimes they really cause a great 
deal of more serious trouble, and we can't tell why. We 
must wait and believe and be quite sure the Gods are good. 
**What is not always good is the tender teaching we get 
at home. We are told of things so beautiful that we 
believe everybody must believe them, — truth, and love, and 
duty, and honour of soul, etc. We are even taught the 
enormous lie that the world is entirely regulated by these 
beliefs. I wonder if it would not be much better to teach 
children the adult truth: — 'The world is thus and so: — 
those beliefs are ideal only which do not influence the in- 
tellectual life, nor the industrial life, nor the social life. 



The world is a carnival-ball; and you must wear a mask 
thereat, — and never, never doff it; — except to the woman 
or the man you must love always. Learn to wear your 
mask with grace — only keep your heart fresh in spite of 
all bitter knowledge.' Wouldn't this be the best advice? 
As a mere commonplace fact, — ^the whole battle of life is 
fought in disguise by those who win. No man knows the 
heart of another man. No woman knows the heart of an- 
other woman. Only the woman can learn the man, and 
the man the woman ; — and this only after years ! "What a 
great problem it is; and how utterly it is neglected in' 
teaching the little human flowers that we set out in the 
world's cold without a thought! 

**You are more and more like me in every letter; but 
you are better far. I have not learned reserve with 
friends yet: I supply the lack by a retreating disposition, 
— a disinclination to make acquaintances. I love very 
quickly and strongly; but just as quickly dislike what I 
loved — if deceived, and the dislike does not die. My gen- 
eral experience has been that the loveable souls are but 
rarely lodged in the forms which most attract us: there 
are such exceptions on the woman's side as my dear little 
Sis, — and there are exceptions on the male side of a par- 
ticular order, and rare. But the rule remains. I wonder 
if all these jokes are not played on us by the Gods, who 
think, — 'No ! — you want the infinite ! That can be reached 
later only, — after innumerable births. First learn, for a 
million years or so, just to love only souls. You must! 
for you will be punished if you try to obtain all perfec- 
tions in one. ' I think the Gods talk to us about that way ; 
and when we leave the Spring season of life behind, we 
find the Gods were right after all. 

<< — Still, the great puzzle is in all these things there are 
no general rules solid enough to trust in. I fancy the 
best teaching for a heart would be, — * Always caution, — 



but — believe the tendency of the world is to good/ And 
largeness seems to be necessary, — never to suffer oneself 
to see only one charm ; but to train oneself to study com- 
binations and understand them. Any modern human na- 
ture is too complex to be otherwise judged. 

''Music, — yes! If I were near you I would be always 
teasing you to play: — and would bring you all kinds of 
queer exotic melodies to make variations on : strange 
m^elodies from Spanish America and the Creole Is- 
lands, and Japan, and China, and all sorts of strange 
places. We should try to do very curious things 
in the way of ballads and songs, and you would teach me 
all sorts of musical things I don't know. By the way, 
you will be shocked to learn, perhaps, that I have never 
been able to appreciate the superiority of the new Ger- 
man music : The Italian still seems to me the divine : but 
that may be because I have never had time to train myself 
to appreciate. 

*' — You do not know how much I sympathise with all 
your anxieties and troubles, and how much I wish for 
your strength and happiness. Would I not like to be 
travelling with you to countries where you would find all 
the rest and light and warmth you could enjoy! Per- 
haps, some day that may be. Pray to the Gods for my 
good fortune; and we shall share the pleasure together if 
They listen. If They do not, we must wait as the Bud- 
dhists say until the future birth. Then I want to be a 
very rich man, or woman, and you a very dear little sister 
or brother; — and I want to have a steam yacht of 30,000 

*' — Your sw^eetest little daughter, may you live to see 
her happiness in all things ! I am glad I have no daugh- 
ter. A boy can fight — must fight his way ; but a daughter 
is the luxury of a rich man. Had I a daughter, she would 
be too dear; and I should feel inclined to say if dying: — 



'My child, I am unable to guard you longer, and the world 
is difficult: you would do better to come to Shadowland 
with me/ But your Marjory will be well guarded and 
petted, and have the world made sweet for her; and you 
will have no more grief. You have had all your disap- 
pointments and troubles in girlhood — childhood; — the fu- 
ture must be kind to you. As for me, I really think the 
Gods owe me some favours ; they have ignored me so long 
that I am now all expectation." 
Then again: — 

**My very sweet little Sister, 

*'Your dear letter came yesterday, and filled us all 
with gladness. You see I say US; — for my folks prayed 
very hard for you to the ancient Gods and to the Bud- 
dhas, — that I might not lose that little sister of mine. — 
And now to answer questions. 

''Indeed, Setsu got the photos, and wondered at them, 
for she had never seen a carriage before of that kind, 
or a room like your room; and very childishly asked me 
to make her a room like yours. To which I said: — 'The 
cost of such a room would buy for you a whole street in 
your native city of Matsue; and besides, you would be 
very unhappy and uncomfortable in such a room.' And 
when I explained, she wondered still more. (A very large 
Japanese house could be bought with the grounds for 
about £30 — I mean a big, big merchant's house — in 
Izumo.) Another wonder was the donkey in the other 
photo, for none had ever seen such an animal. 

" — As for your ever coming to Japan, my dear, if you 
do, you shall have a chair. But I fear — indeed I am 
almost certain — that the day is not very far away when 
I must leave Setsu and Kajiwo to the care of the ancient 
Gods, and go away and work bravely for them elsewhere, 
till Kajiwo is old enough to go abroad. The days of for- 



eign influence and of foreign teaching in Japan are rap- 
idly drawing to a close. Japan is learning to do well 
without US; and we have not been kind enough to her to 
win her love. We have persecuted her with hordes of 
fanatical missionaries, robbed her by unjust treaties, 
forced her to pay monstrous indemnities for trifling 
wrongs; — we have forced her to become strong, and she 
is going to do without us presently, the future is dark. 
Happily my folks will be provided for; and I expect to 
be able, if I must go, to return in a few years. It is barely 
possible that I might get into journalism in Japan, — but 
not at all sure. I suppose you know that is my living pro- 
fession: I understand all kinds of newspaper work. But 
as I am no believer in conventions, I am not likely to get 
any of the big sinecures. To do that one must be a ladies' 
man, a member of some church, a social figure. I am no 
ladies' man: I am known to the world as an 'infidel,' and 
I hate society unutterably. Were I rich enough to live 
where I please, I should certainly (if unable to live in 
Japan) return to the tropics. Indeed, I have a faint 
hope of passing at least the winters of my old age near 
the Equator. Where the means are to come from I don't 
know; but I have a kind of faith in Goethe's saying, that 
whatever a man most desires in youth, he will have an 
excess of in his old age. Leisure to write books in a warm 
climate is all I ask. Pray to the Gods, if you believe in 
any Gods, to help the dream to be realised. 

"Kajiwo is my nightmare. I am tortured all day and 
aU night by the problem of how to set him going in life 
before I become dust. Sometimes I think how bad it was 
of me to have had a child at all. Yet before that, I did 
not really know what life was; and I would not lose the 
knowledge for any terms of gifts of years. Besides, I 
am beginning to think I am really a tolerably good sort 
of fellow, — for if I had been really such a monster of 



depravity as the religious fanatics declared, how could I 
have got such a fine boy. There must be some good in 
me anyhow. Nobody shall make a * Christian' of Kajiwo 
if I can help it — by * Christian' I mean a believer in ab- 
surd and cruel dogmas. The world talks much about 
Christianity, but no one teaches it. 

*' — So glad to hear you are able to go out a little 
again. Perhaps a long period of strong solid calm health 
is preparing for you. After the trials and worries of 
maternity such happy conditions often come as a reward. 
I hope to chat with you by a fire when we are both old, 
and Kaji has shot up into a man, — looking like his aunt a 
little — with a delicate aquiline face. But only the Eterni- 
ties know what his face will be like. It is changeable as 
water now. I won't send another photo of him till he 
looks pretty again. 

*'With best love, 

**Lafcadio Hearn. 

"June 24, '94. 

**I must go off travelling in a couple of weeks. Per- 
haps there will be a little delay before my next letter 
reaches you." 

In the next letter he touches upon these travels under- 
taken with his wife, mother-in-law, and Kaji (an abbrevi- 
ation of Kazuo, or Kajiwo, as Hearn was in the habit of 
calling him at first). 

''How sweet of you," he says, "to send that charming 
photo of the children. It delighted us all. Setsu never 
saw a donkey — there are none in Japan ; and all wondered 
at the strange animal. What I wondered at was to see 
what a perfect pretty little woman the charming Marjory 
is. As for the boy, he is certainly what every parent 
wants a boy to be as to good looks ; but I also think he must 


Kazuo (Hearn's Son, Aged about Seven). 


have a very sweet temper. I trust that you won't allow 
the world to spoil it for him. They do spoil tempers at 
some of the great public schools. I cannot believe it is 
necessary to let young lads be subjected to the brutality 
of places like Eton and Harrow. It hardens them too 
much. The answer is that the great school turns out the 
conquerors of the world, — the subalterns of Kipling, — the 
Olives, — the daring admirals and great captains, etc. Per- 
haps in this militant age it is necessary. But I notice 
the great thinkers generally come from other places. 
However, this is the practical age, — there is nothing for 
philosophers, poets, or painters to succeed in, unless they 
are independently situated. I shall try to make a good 
doctor out of Kaji, if I can. I could never afford to do 
more for him. And if possible I shall take him to Eu- 
rope, and stay there with him for a couple of years. But 
that is a far-away matter." 

Characteristically with that apprehensive mind of his, 
his son's future, as Heam himself confesses, became a 
perfect nightmare. 

"I must make an Englishman of him, I fear. His hair 
has turned bright brown. He is so strong that I expect 
him to become a very powerful man: he is very deep- 
chested and thick-built and so heavy now, that people 
think I am not telling the truth about his age. 

*'Kajiwo's soul seems to be so English that I fancy his 
memory of former births would scarcelj^ refer much to 
Japan. How about the real compound race-soul, though? 
One would have to recollect having been two at the same 
time. This seems to me a defect in the popular theory — 
still the Japanese hold, or used to hold, that the soul is 
itself a multiple — that each person has a mimher of souls. 
That would give an explanation. Scientifically it is true. 
We are all compounds of innumerable lives — each a sum in 
an infinite addition — the dead are not dead — they live in 



all of us and move us, — and stir faintly in every heart- 
beat. And there are ghostly interlinkings. Something of 
yoii must be in me, and of both of us in Kajiwo. 

*' — I wonder if this also be true of little Dorothy. It 
is a curious thing that you tell me about the change in 
colour of the eyes. I only saw that happen in hot climates. 
Creole children are not uncommonly bom with gold hair 
and bright blue eyes. A few years later the skin, eyes, 
hair seem to have entirely changed, — ^the first to brown, 
the two last to coal-black. 

'' — I am writing all this dreamy stuff just to amuse 
my sweet little sister, — because I can't be near to pet her 
and make her feel very happy. "Well, a little Oriental 
theory may have some caressing charm for you. It is a 
very gentle faith — though also very deep; and you will 
find in my book how much it interests me. 

'^Take very, very, very good care of your precious little 
self, — and do not try to write till you feel immensely 

strong. Setsu sends sweet words and wishes. And I ! 

^* With love, 

*'Lafcadio Hearn. 
"Kumamoto, June 2, '94." 




"So Japan paid to learn how to see shadows in Nature, in life, and 
in thought. And the West taught her that the sole business of the 
divine sun was the making of the cheaper kind of shadows. And the 
West taught her that the higher-priced shadows were the sole product 
of Western civilisation, and bade her admire and adopt. Then Japan 
wondered at the shadows of machinery and chimneys and telegraph 
poles ; and at the shadows of mines and of factories, and the shadows 
in the hearts of those who worked there; and at the shadows of 
houses twenty storeys high, and of hunger begging under them; and 
shadows of enormous charities that multiplied poverty; and shadows 
of social reforms that multiplied vice ; and the shadows of shams and 
hypocrisies and swallow-tail coats; and the shadow of a foreign God, 
said to have created mankind for the purpose of an auto-da-fe. 
WTiereat Japan became rather serious, and refused to study any more 
silhouettes. Fortunately for the world, she returned to her first 
matchless art; and, fortunately for herself, returned to her own 
beautiful faith. But some of the shadows still cling to her life; and 
she cannot possibly get rid of them. Never again can the world 
seem to her quite so beautiful as it did before." 

After the lapse of a certain amount of time Hearn 
gradually became more reconciled to Kumamoto. The 
climate agreed with him, he put on flesh, all his Japanese 
clothes, he declared, even his kiinono, had become too 
small. *'I cannot say whether this be the climate, the 
diet, or what. Setsu says it is because I have a good wife : 
but she might be prejudiced, you know." 

It is more likely that his well-being at this time arose 
from his having given up the experiment of living ex- 
clusively on a Japanese regimen. After his bout of illness 
at Matsue, he found that he could not recuperate on the 



fare of the country, even when reinforced with tggs. 
Having lived for ten months thus, horribly ashamed as 
he was to confess his weakness, he found himself obliged 
to return to the flesh-pots of Egypt, and devoured enor- 
mous quantities of beef and fowl, and drank terrific quanti- 
ties of beer. "The fault is neither mine nor that of the 
Japanese: it is the fault of my ancestors, the ferocious, 
wolfish hereditary instincts and tendencies of boreal man- 
kind. The sins of the fathers, etc.'' 

Meantime, his knowledge of the strange people amongst 
whom his lot was cast was deepening and expanding. 
'^Out of the East," the collection of essays — essence of 
experiences accumulated at this time, and the book, next 
perhaps to ** Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan," by which he 
is best known — is typical of his genius at its best and at 
its worst. The first sketch, entitled, '^The Dream of a 
Summer's Day," is simply a bundle of impressions of the 
journey to which he alludes when writing to his sister, 
made from Nagasaki to Kumamoto, along the shores of 
the Inland Sea. This journey, through some of the most 
beautiful scenery of Japan, after the horrors of a foreign 
hotel at an open port, was one of those experiences that 
form an epoch in an artist's life, touching him with the 
magic wand of inspiration. All the delightful impres- 
sions made by the poetry and the elusive beauty of old 
Japan seem concentrated into six pages of poetic prose. 
To the world it is known as "The Dream of a Summer's 
Day. " ^ To those who have been in Japan, and love the 
delicate beauty of her mountain ranges, the green of her 
rice-fields, and the indigo shadows of her cryptomeria- 
groves, it summons up delightful memories, the rapture 
felt in the crystalline atmosphere, its picturesque little 
people, its running waters, the flying gleams of sunlight, 
the softly tolling bells, the distant ridges blue and remote 

1 "Out of the East," Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 


Dorothy Atkinson. 


in the warm air. Like a bubbling spring the sense of 
beauty broke forth from the caverns of ancient memory, 
where, according to Lafcadio, it had lain imprisoned for 
years, to ripple and murmur sweet music in his ears. He 
went back to the days of his childhood, back to dreams 
lying in the past in what had become for him an alien 
land; the fragrance of a most dear memory swept over 
his senses. The gnat of the soul of him flitted out into 
the gleam of blue 'twixt sea and sun, back to the cedarn 
balcony pillars of the Japanese hotel, whence he could see 
the opening of the bay and the horizon, haunted by moun- 
tain shapes, faint as old memories, and then again to dis- 
tant and almost forgotten memories of his youth by Lough 
Corrib, in the West of Ireland, the result being as beautiful 
a prose poem as Hearn ever wrote. 

The last essay in the collection is called ''Yuko," a 

There are many of Lafcadio Hearn 's critics who say 
that, in consequence of his ignorance of the Japanese 
language, and the isolation in which he lived, he never 
could have known anything really of the innermost 
thoughts and feelings of the people to whom he professed 
to act as interpreter. Sometimes they maintain that his 
views are unfavourable to an exaggerated extent, at an- 
other too laudatory. His essay entitled ''Yuko" might 
certainly be taken as an example of the manner in which 
he selected certain superficial manifestations as typical of 
the inner life of the Japanese — a people as reserved, as 
secretive, as difficult to follow in their emotional aspects 
as the hidden currents to which he compares them, quot- 
ing the words of Kipling's pilot: "And if any man 
comes to you, and says, ' I know the Javva currents, ' don 't 
you listen to him; for those currents is never yet known 
to mortal man!" 

Yuko was a servant-maid in a wealthy family at Kine- 



gawa. She had read in the daily newspaper the account 
of the attempt on the life of the Czarevitch dur- 
ing his visit to Japan in 1891. Being an hysterical, 
excitable girl, she was apparently wound up to the pitch 
of temporary insanity. Leaving her employer's home, 
she made her way to Kyoto, and there, buying a razor, 
she cut her throat opposite the gate of the Mikado 's palace. 
Hearn writes of the incident as if the girl were a Joan of 
Arc, obeying the dictates of the most fervent patriotism. 
He goes to the extent of describing the Mikado, "The Son 
of Heaven," hearing of the girl's death, and *'augustly 
ceasing to mourn for the crime that had been committed 
because of the manifestations of the great love his people 
bore him." 

Afterwards, Hearn admitted that his enthusiasm was 
perhaps exaggerated, for revelations showed that Yuko, in 
a letter she had left, had spoken of '*a family claim." 
Under the raw strong light of these commonplace revela- 
tions, he confessed that his little sketch seemed for the 
moment much too romantic, and yet the real poetry of the 
event remained unlessened— the pure ideal that impelled 
a girl to take her own life merely to give proof of the love 
and loyalty of a nation. No small, mean, dry facts could 
ever belittle that large fact. 

Let those, however, who say that Hearn did not under- 
stand the enigmatical people amongst whom his lines were 
cast, read his article on '* Jiu-jitsu" in this same volume. 
It is headed by a quotation from the " Tao-Te-King. " 
*'Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm 
and strong. So is it with all things. . . . Firmness 
and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and 
weakness are the concomitants of life. Hence he who re- 
lies upon his own strength shall not conquer." Preach- 
ing from this text, Hearn writes a masterly article, show- 
ing how Japan, though apparently adopting western 



inventions, preserves her own genius and mode of thought 
in all vital questions absolutely unchanged. The essay 
ends with a significant paragraph, showing how we occi- 
dentals, who have exterminated feebler races by merely 
over-living them, may be at last exterminated ourselves by 
races capable of under-living us, more self-denying, more 
fertile, and less expensive for nature to support. Inherit- 
ing, doubtless, our wisdom, adopting our more useful in- 
ventions, continuing the best of our industries — perhaps 
even perpetuating what is most worthy to endure in our 
sciences and our arts; pushing us out of the progress of 
the world, as the dinotherium, or the ichthyosaurus, were 
pushed out before us. 

Towards the end of his stay at Kumamoto, he wrote one 
of his delightful, whimsically affectionate letters to his 
old friend, Mr. Watkin, in answer apparently to one from 
him, recalling their talks and expeditions in the old days 
at Cincinnati, and expressing his gratitude for the infinite 
patience and wisdom shown in his treatment of his 
naughty, superhumanly foolish, detestable little friend. 
^'Well, I wish I were near you to love you, and make up 
for all old troubles.^' He then tells his "dad" that he 
has been able to save betw^een $3,500 and $4,000, that he 
has placed in custody in his wife's name. The reaction, 
he said, against foreign influence was very strong, and the 
future looked more gloomy every day. Eventually, he 
supposed, he must leave Japan and work elsewhere, and he 
ends, "When I first met you I was nineteen. I am now 
forty-four — well, I suppose I must have lots more trouble 
before I go to Nirvana." 

Towards the end of the Chinese-Japanese War Hearn 
was worried with anxiety on the subject of the noncontin- 
uance of his appointment at the Kumamoto College. 
"Government Service," he writes to Amenomori, "is un- 
certain to the degree of terror, — a sword of Damocles; 



and Government doesn't employ men like you as teachers. 
If it did, and would give them what they should have, the 
position of a foreign teacher would be pleasant enough. 
He would be among thinkers and find some kindness, — in- 
stead of being made to feel that he is the servant of petty 
political clerks." He approached Page Baker, his old 
New Orleans friend, asking him if he could get him any- 
thing if he started in the spring for America. Something 
good enough to save money at, not only for himself, but 
something that would enable him to send money to Japan ; 
he was not desirous of seeing Boston, New York or Phila- 
delphia, but would rather be in Memphis, Charleston, or 
glorious Florida. Page Baker had apparently been send- 
ing him help, for on June 2nd Hearn writes acknowledging 
a draft for one hundred and sixty-three pounds, thanking 
him ten thousand times from the bottom of his much 
scarified heart. *'I am now forty-four," he adds, ''and as 
grey as a badger. Unless I can make enough to educate 
Diy boy well, I don't know what I'm worth, — but I feel 
that I shall have precious little time to do it in ; add twenty 
to forty-four, and how much is left of a man ? ' ' 

In another letter he again alludes to the manner in 
which the government are cutting down the number of 
employes: *'My contract runs only until March," he 
ends, **and my chances are 0." 

At last, after many hesitations, he definitely decided to 
leave government service, and in the autumn of 1894 ac- 
cepted the offer of a position on the staff of the Kobe 
Chronicle made by Mr. Robert Young, proprietor and 
editor of the newspaper. 

To his sister he wrote from the Kobe Chronicle office, 
Kobe, Japan; — 



''My dear Minnie, 

''I am too much in a whirl just now to write a 
good letter to you (whose was the little curl in your last? 
— you never told me). I am writing only to say that I 
have left the Government Service to edit a paper in one of 
the open ports. This is returning to my old profession, 
and is pleasant enough, — though not just now very lucra- 

**Best love to you. Perhaps we shall meet in a few 
years. My boy is well, beginning to walk a little. My 
book was to be issued on the 29th Sept. 

*'Ever affectionately, 





Last spring I journej-ed to Japan with Mrs. Atkinson, 
Lafcadio Hearn's half-sister, and her daughter. Mrs. 
Atkinson was anxious to make the acquaintance of her 
Japanese half-sister-in-law to ascertain the circumstances 
surrounding the family, also if it were possible to carry- 
out her half-brother's wishes with regard to educating his 
eldest son, Kazuo — his Benjamin — in England. 

The first place at which we landed was Kobe, situated 
on the eastern end of the Inland Sea, opposite Osaka, the 
Manchester of Japan. 

Kobe is numbered among the open ports. Consuls can 
fly their country's flag and occupy offices on the ''Bund.'' 
Surrounding the bay are a number of German, American 
and British warehouses. Foreigners also are allowed to 
reside in the city under Japanese law. 

During the six weeks on board the P. & 0. coming 
out, I had been reading Hearn's books, and was steeped 
in the legendary lore, the ''hidden soul-life" of ancient 
Nippon. At Moji — gateway of the Inland Sea — it had 
blown a gale, and the Japanese steamer, the Chikugo Maru, 
to which we had transhipped at Shanghai, was obliged to 
come to anchor under the headland. The ecstasy, there- 
fore, after rolling in a heavy sea all night, of floating into 
the calm, sun-bathed waters of the Inland Sea, made the 
enchantment all the more bewitching. Reclining in our 
deck-chairs, we looked on the scene as it slowly passed be- 
fore our eyes, and yielded, without a struggle, to the ex- 



quisite and fantastical charm of the spirit of Old Japan. 
For what seemed uncounted hours we crept between the 
dim boundaries of tinted mountains, catching glimpses 
here and there of mysterious bays and islands, of shadowy 
avenues, arched by symbolic Torii leading to ancient 
shrines, of groups of fishing villages that seemed to have 
grown on the shore, their thatched roofs covered with the 
purple "flowers of the roof plant, the ''Yane-shohu.'' At 
first we endeavoured to decipher in Murray the names of 
the enchanting little hamlets, with their cedarn balconies, 
high-peaked gables, and quaint terraced gardens, inhabited 
by a strange people in geta and kimono, like figures on a 
Japanese screen depicting a scene of hundreds of years 
ago. Across the mind of almost every one the magic of 
Japan strikes with a sensation of strangeness and delight, 
— a magic that gives the visitor a sense of great issues, and 
remote visions, telling of a kingdom dim and half-appre- 
hended. Unsubstantial and fragile as all these villages 
looked, they were hallowed by memorable stories of hero- 
ism and self-sacrifice, either in the last war with Eussia 
and China, or in her own internecine fights centuries ago ; 
chronicles of men who had fought heroically and died un- 
complainingly in defence of their country, chronicles of 
women who had scorned to weep when told of the death 
of husbands, fathers and brothers in the pest-stricken rice- 
fields of China, or in the trenches before Port Arthur. 

A warm, perfect noon came and went, and the sun 
that had poured himself from above into the earth as into 
a cup, gradually descended, as we crept up the waters of 
the Inland Sea, towards the shoulders of the eastern peaks, 
until they turned saffron and then flushed pink, and then 
paled to green. 

There was no moon, but the night stretched in pale 
radiance overhead. And as we watched the stars burn 
with the extraordinary brilliancy peculiar to Japan, we 



dreamed that we looked on the River Celestial, the Ghost 
of "Waters. We saw the mists hovering along the verge, 
and the water grasses that bend in the winds of autumn, 
and we knew that the falling dew was the spray from the 
herdsman's oar. And the heavens "seemed very near, 
and warm, and human ; and the silence about us was filled 
with the dream of a love unchanging, innnortal, for ever 
yearning and for ever young, and for ever left unsatisfied 
by the paternal wisdom of the Gods. ' ' 

The open port of Kobe came like an awakening out of 
a delicious dream. It was impossible not to feel exasper- 
ated with the Germans, Englishmen and Americans who 
have desecrated an earthly paradise with red-brick erec- 
tions, factory chimneys, and plate-glass shop-fronts; easy 
was it to understand Hearn's railings against the moderni- 
sation of the country. 

Not far, however, had the foreign wedge been driven in. 
After a short kuruma journey from the landing-stage to 
the hotel, we were back again in the era of Kusimoki 

Foreign names may have been given to the hills, and 
stretches of sea coast, — Aden, Bismarck Hill, Golf Links 
Valley ; — ancient Nippon keeps them as her own, with their 
Shinto and Buddhist temples, surrounded by woods of 
cryptomeria and camphor-trees. Their emotional and in- 
tellectual life is no more altered by their occidental neigh- 
bours than the surface of a mirror is changed by piassing 
reflections, as says their interpreter, Lafcadio Hearn. 

Next to the hotel — as if to emphasise its nationality — 
was an ancient pine-surrounded cemetery, set with tall 
narrow laths of unpainted wood; while behind, to the 
summit of the hill, stretched a blue-grey sea of tiles, a 
cedar world of engawa and sJioji, indescribable whimsicali- 
ties, representing another world in its picturesqueness and 
grotesquery. But it was not only in these visible objects 



that a strange, unexpected life manifested itself. In the 
street, as you passed along, dim surmises of some inscrut- 
able humanity — another race soul, charming, fascinating, 
and yet alien to your own, formulated itself to your west- 
ern consciousness. The bowing, the smiling, the arrange- 
ment of flowers in the poorest shanties, the banners and 
lanterns with marvellous drawings and ideographs; the 
children singing niu-sery rhymes in an unknown language ; 
others sitting naked in hot tubs, a woman with elaborately 
dressed hair stuck over with large-headed pins, and rouged 
and powdered cheeks, cleansing her teeth over the street 
gutter, while behind were glimpses of curious interiors 
where men and women were squatting on the floor like 
Buddhas, some reading, some with brushes writing on long 
strips of paper from right to left. 

Enigmatical, incomprehensible it might be, but there was 
nothing displeasing, nothing objectionable as in a native 
Arab town, or even in the streets of Canton or Shanghai. 
No unhappy children, or cross, red-faced women ; no coarse, 
drunken men, no loud voices, no brawling. Though all 
was alien to your traditions, you were forced to acknowl- 
edge a charm, a refinement, a courtesy, a kindliness far 
superior to those to be found in European cities. 

The conditions existing in Kobe when Hearn arrived 
in 1895 were not satisfactory from a sanitary point of 
view. Cholera had come with the victorious army from 
China, and had carried off, during the hot season, about 
thirty thousand people. The smoke and odour from the 
funeral pyres that burnt continually, came wind-blown 
into Hearn 's garden down from the hills behind the town, 
just to remind him, as he says, *'that the cost of burning 
an adult of my own size is 80 sen — about half a dollar in 
American money at the present rate of exchange." 

From the upper balcony of his house the Japanese 
street, with its rows of little shops, was visible to the bay ; 



from thence he watched the cholera patients being taken 
away, and the bereaved, as soon as the law allowed, flit- 
ting from the paper-shuttered abodes, while the ordinary 
life of the street went on day and night, as if nothing 
particular had happened. The itinerant vendors with 
their bamboo poles, and baskets or buckets, passed the 
empty houses and uttered their accustomed cry; the blind 
shampooer blew his melancholy whistle; the private 
watchman made his heavy staff boom upon the gutter-flags ; 
and the children chased one another as usual with screams 
and laughter. Sometimes a child vanished, but the sur- 
vivors continued their play as if nothing had happened, 
according to the wisdom of the ancient East. 

A supersensitive man, not in robust health, must have 
felt acutely the depressing effects of this state of things. 
Sclerosis of the arteries and other symptoms of heart fail- 
ure, warned him during this autumn of 1895 that he was 
*' descending the shady side of the hill." An attack of 
inflammation of the eyes also gave him much trouble. 
He had been worried, he says in a letter to Page Baker, 
by the fear that either he or his friend might die before 
they met again. *'I think of you a great deal. . . . 
You are a long-lived, tough race, you Bakers. Page 
Baker will be most likely writing some day things of Laf- 
cadio Hearn that was, which the said Lafcadio never de- 
served, and never will deserve." 

Death had no terrors for Lafcadio Hearn, but the pre- 
monitions of physical shipwreck that beset him now de- 
pressed him heart and soul because of the work still left 

He would like nothing so much, he said, as to get killed, 
if he had no one but himself in the world to take care of 
— which is just why he wouldn't get killed. He couldn't 
afford luxuries until his work was done. 

To his sister he whites: — 



**I have been on my back in a dark room for a month 
with inflammation of the eyes, and cannot write much. 
Thanks for sweet letter. I received a Daily News from 
you, — many, many thanks. Did not receive the other pa- 
pers you spoke of — ^probably they were stolen in Kuma- 
moto. I fear I cannot do much newspaper work for 
some time. The climate does not seem to suit my eyes, — 
a hot climate would be better. I may be able to make a 
trip next winter to some tropical place, if I make any 
money out of my books. My new book — ^'Out of the 
East" — will be published soon after this letter reaches 

^'Future looks doubtful — don't feel very jolly about it. 
The mere question of living is the chief annoyance. I am 
offered some further work in Kobe, that would leave me 
leisure (they promise) for my own literary work, but I 
am not sure. However, the darkest hour is before the 
da^vn, perhaps. 

*'Kaji is well able to walk now, and talks a little. 
Every day his hair is growing brighter; a thorough Eng- 
lish boy. 

*' Excuse bad eyes. 

"Love to you, 


Although more than twelve years had elapsed between 
our visit and the period when Hearn had resided in Kobe, 
nearly every one remembered the odd little journalist, 
who might be seen daily making his way, in his shy, near- 
sighted fashion, from his house in Kitinagasa Dori, to the 
office of the Kobe Chronicle. 

Dr. Papellier of Kobe, who attended Hearn in a pro- 
fessional capacity at this time, was full of reminiscences. 
Long before meeting him at Kobe Dr. Papellier had been 
a great admirer of his genius, had, indeed, when surgeon 



on board a German vessel, translated ** Chita" for a Nu- 
remburg paper. 

Being an oculist, one of his first injunctions, as soon 
as he examined Hearn's eyes, was cessation from all work 
and rest in a darkened room if he wished to escape total 
blindness. The right eye was myopic to an extent seldom 
seen, and at the moment was so severely inflamed by 
neuritis that the danger of an affection to the retina 
seemed imminent, — ^the left was entirely blind. For the 
purpose of keeping up his spirits, under this unwonted 
constraint, Dr. Papellier, in spite of his professional en- 
gagements, went out of his way to visit the little man fre- 
quently, and would stop hours chatting; showed him, in- 
deed, a kindness and consideration that, we were told, 
were quite exceptional. Hearn, Dr. Papellier relates, was 
a good and fluent talker, content to keep the ball rolling 
himself, and preferred an attentive listener rather than 
a person who stated his own opinions. 

Their topics of conversations circled round the char- 
acteristics of the civilisation in which they were living. 
Hearn's emotional enthusiasm for the Japanese, the doc- 
tor said, had cooled; he had received several shocks in 
dealing with officials at Kumamoto, and said his illusions 
were vanishing, and he wanted to leave the country; 
France, China, or the South Sea Islands seemed each in 
turn to attract his wayward fancy. 

The account of Stevenson's life in Samoa had made a 
great impression on him. He declared that if he had not 
his Japanese family to look after he would pack up his 
books of reference and start at once for Samoa. 

^'His wife, who understood no English at all, seldom 
appeared, a servant girl usually attending to his wants 
when I was present. 

"It struck me at the time that his knowledge of the 
Japanese vernacular was very poor for a man of his 



intelligence, who, for nearly four years, had lived almost 
entirely in the interior, surrounded by those who could 
only talk the language of the country. 

*'It was plain that what he knew about Japan must 
have been gained through the medium of interpreters. I 
was still more surprised when I discovered how extremely 
near-sighted he was. His impressions of scenery or Jap- 
anese works of art could never have been obtained as 
ordinary people obtain them. The details had to be 
studied piece by piece with a small telescope, and then 
described as a whole. ' ' 

His mode of life, Dr. Papellier said, was almost penuri- 
ous, although he must have been receiving a good salary 
from the Kobe Chronicle, and was making something by 
his books. At home he dressed invariably in Japanese 
style ; his clothes being very clean and neat. The furniture 
of his small house was scanty. His food, which was 
partly Japanese and partly so-called "foreign," was pre- 
pared in a small restaurant somewhere in the town. In 
his position as medical attendant Papellier regarded it as 
his duty to remonstrate on this point, impressing upon 
him that he ought to remember the drain on his 
constitution of the amount of brain work that he was 
doing, both at the Kohe Chronicle office and writing at 

There were reasons for this that Hearn would not care 
to tell Papellier. Mrs. Koizumi was in delicate health, 
expecting her second child, and Hearn doubtless, with 
that consideration that invariably distinguished him in 
his treatment of his wife, had his food brought from out- 
side so as to save her the trouble and exertion of cooking 
it at home. Only in one way, Papellier said, did he allow 
himself any indulgence, and that was in the amount he 
smoked. Although he seldom took spirits, he smoked in- 
cessantly — not cigars, but a small Japanese pipe — a kizeru 



— ^which he handled in a skilful way, lighting one tiny 
tobacco pellet in the glowing ashes of the one just con- 
sumed. One of his hobbies was collecting pipes, the other 
was collecting books. He had already got together a 
valuable library at New Orleans, he did the same in Japan. 
He was able to exercise these hobbies inexpensively, but 
they needed knowledge, time and patience. At his death 
he possessed more than two hundred pipes, all shapes and 

Every one whom we met when we arrived at Kobe 
advised us to call on the editor of the Kobe Chronicle if 
we wanted information on the subject of Lafcadio Hearn. 
We therefore made our way to the Ko'be Chronicle office 
as soon as we could. Mr. Young as well as Mrs. Young, 
whose acquaintance we made subsequently, were both full 
of reminiscences of the odd little genius. 

He generally made it a rule to drop into the Youngs' 
house every Sunday for lunch ; his particular fancy in the 
way of food, or, at all events, the only thing he expressed 
a fancy for, was plum-pudding — a plum-pudding there- 
fore became a standing dish on Sundays, so long as Hearn 
was in Kobe. '*The Japanese," he was wont to say, **are 
a very clever people, but they don't understand plum- 
pudding. ' ' 

Absence of mind, and inattention to events passing 
around him, was very noticeable, the Youngs told us, these 
days. Sometimes he seemed even to find a difficulty in 
fixing his thoughts on the identity of the individual with 
whom he was conversing. 

Mrs. Young, if she will permit me to say so, is an ex- 
tremely agreeable-looking, clear-complexioned, chestnut- 
haired Englishwoman. For some considerable time Hearn 
always addressed her in Japanese. At last one day she 
remarked: *'You know, Mr. Hearn, I am not Japanese. '* 



' * Oh, really, ' ' was his reply, as if for the first time he had 
realised the fact. From that time forward he addressed 
her in English. 

Mr. Young was kind enough to furnish me with copies 
of Hearn's editorials during the seven or eight months 
he worked on the staff of the Kobe Chronicle. Though not 
coinciding with many of Hearn's opinions and conclu- 
sions, with regard to the Japanese and their religious and 
social convictions, Mr. Young gave him a free hand so 
far as subject-matter and expression of opinion were con- 
cerned. None of his contributions, however, are distin- 
guished by Hearn's peculiar literary qualities. The 
'flint-edged space of the newspaper column cramped and 
hampered his genius. Work with him, he declared, was 
always a pain, but writing for money an impossibility. 

Of course, he said, he could write, and write, and write, 
but the moment he began to write for money the little 
special colour vanished, the special flavour that was within 
him evaporated, he became nobody again; and the public 
wondered why it paid any attention to so commonplace 
a fool. So he had to sit and wait for the gods. His 
mind, however, ate itself when unemployed. Even read- 
ing did not fill the vacuum. His thoughts wandered, and 
imaginings, and recollections of unpleasant things said 
or done recurred to him. Some of these unpleasant things 
were remembered longer than others; under this stimulus 
he rushed to work, wrote page after page of vagaries, 
metaphysical, emotional, romantic — and threw them aside. 
Then next day he rewrote them and rewrote them until they 
arranged themselves into a whole, and the result was an 
essay that the editor of the Atlantic declared was a verita- 
ble illumination, and no mortal man knew how or why it 
was written, not even he himself. 

Two of Hearn's characteristics, both of which militated 



considerably against his being an effective newspaper cor- 
respondent, were his personal bias and want of restraint. 
A daily newspaper must, above all things, be run on 
customary and everyday lines, but Hearn did not possess 
the ordinary hold on the conventional methods and usages 
of life. For instance, when treating of the subject of 
free libraries he thus expresses himself: *'A library is 
now regarded, not as a treasury of wisdom and beauty, 
but as a 'dumping-ground' for offal, a repository of hu- 
man frivolity, insanity and folly. Newspapers, forsooth! 
— ^why not collect and store the other things that wise 
men throw away, cigar-ends and orange-peelings? Some 
future historian of the gutter might like to see them. No, 
I would give to all these off-scourings and clippings the 
same doom." 

No consideration would deter him from flying in the 
face of the ordinary reader if it suited him so to do. He 
had always passionately resisted the christianising of 
Japan, not only from a religious, but from an artistic point 
of view. He thus roused the wrath of the orthodox, — a 
wrath that pursued him from this year in Kobe until his 
death, and makes the very sound of his name detested in 
Christian religious circles in Japan. 

*'For myself," he says in one of the Kohe Chronicle 
leaders, ''I could sympathise with the individual, but 
never with the missionary cause. Unconsciously, every 
honest being in the Mission Army is a destroyer, — and a 
destroyer only; for nothing can replace what they break 
down. Unconsciously, too, the missionaries everywhere 
represent the edge, — the acies, — to use the Roman word — 
of Occidental aggression. We are face to face here with 
the spectacle of a powerful and selfish civilisation, demor- 
alising and crushing a weaker, and, in many ways a nobler 
one (if we are to judge by comparative ideals) ; and the 
spectacle is not pretty. We must recognise the inevitable, 



the Cosmic Law, if you like; but one feels and hates the 
moral wrong, and this perhaps blinds one too much to the 
sacrifices and pains accepted by the 'noble army.' " 

Hearn's gradually-increasing disinclination to meet 
strangers was, at this time, indicative of a morbid condition 
of mind and body. He summarily refused to hold any 
intercourse with the foreign commercial element in Kobe, 
pronouncing them rough and common. After life in the 
interior, he declared life at an open port to be very un- 
pleasant. The Germans represented the best of the for- 
eign element, plain and homely, which at all' events was a 
virtue. But he harked back to the life in Old Japan as 
being better, and cleaner, and higher in every way, with 
only the bare means of Japanese comfort, than the luxury 
and money-grabbing at Kobe ; in his opinion, the Japanese 
peasant was ten times more a gentleman than a foreign 
merchant could ever learn to be. . . . Then he in- 
dulges in one of his outbursts against carpets — pianos — 
windows — curtains — brass bands — churches ! and white 
shirts! and *'yofuku"! Would that he had been born 
savage; the curse of civilised cities was on him, and he 
supposed he couldn't get away permanently from them. 
*'How much I could hate all that we call civilisation I 
never knew before. How ugly it is I never could have 
conceived without a long sojourn in Old Japan — the only 
civilised country that existed since Antiquity." 

''Kokoro," the book written at this time, is now cele- 
brated, and justly so. Hearn himself called it a ''crazy 
book." Crazy, it may be designated, from its very orig- 
inality, its strange interpretation of strange things, the 
new note that it initiates, and the sympathetic power it 
displays of divining beliefs and mythologies, the "race 
ghost" of one of the most enigmatical people on earth. 
*'The papers composing this volume," he says in his pref- 
ace, "treat of the inner rather than of the outer life of 



Japan, — for which reason they have been grouped under 
the title 'Kokoro' (Heart)." 

Written with the above character, this word signifies also 
mind, in the emotional sense ; spirit ; courage ; resolve ; sen- 
timent; affection; and inner meaning — just as we say in 
English, *'the heart of things." 

It is the quality of truthful work that it never grows 
old or stale; one can return to it again and again, and in 
interpreting the "heart" of Japan, Hearn's work is ab- 
solutely truthful. I know that this is contradicted by 
many. Professor Foxwell tells a story of a lady tourist 
who told him before she came to Japan she had read 
Heam's books and thought they were delightful as liter- 
ature, but added, **What a disappointment when you come 
here; the people are not at all like his descriptions!" 

The lady had not perhaps gTasped the fact that Hearn's 
principal book on Japan, the book that every tourist reads, 
is called ''Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan." The condi- 
tions and people that he describes are certainly not to 
be found along the beaten tourist track that Western 
civilisation has invaded with webs of steel and ways of 
iron. He perhaps exaggerated some of the characteristics 
and beliefs of the strange people amongst whom he lived, 
and saw romance in the ordinary course of the life around 
him, where romance did not exist. Dr. Papellier, for in- 
stance, said that he once showed him a report in the 
Kolie Chronicle, describing the suicide of a demi-mondaine 
and her lover in a railway tunnel. The incident formed 
the basis of "The Red Bridal," published in "Out of the 
East," which Papellier declared to be an entirely dis- 
torted account of the facts as they really occurred. It is 
the old story of imaginative genius and ordinary common- 
place folk. In discussing the question, Hearn insisted that 
every artist should carry out the theory of selection. A 
photograph would give the unessential and the e^ential; 



an artist picks out important aspects; the portrait-pain- 
ter's work, though manifestly less exact, is incomparably 
finer because of its spirituality; though less technically 
correct, it has acquired the imaginative sentiment of the 
mind of the artist. When depicting the Japanese he felt 
justified in emphasising certain excellent qualities, putting 
these forward and ignoring the rest; choosing the grander 
qualities, as portrait-painters do, and passing over the 
petty frailties, the mean characteristics that might impress 
the casual observer. Nothing is more lovely, for instance, 
than a Japanese village amongst the hills, when seen just 
after sunrise — through the mists of a spring or autumn 
morning. But for the matter-of-fact observer, the enchant- 
ment passes with the vapours: in the raw clear light he 
can find no palace of amethyst, no sails of gold, but only 
flimsy sheds of wood and thatch and the unpainted queer- 
ness of wooden junks. 

He attained to a certainty and precision of form in 
these ''Kokoro" essays that places them above any pre- 
vious work. Now we can see the benefit of his concentra- 
tion of mind, of his earnestness of purpose and monastic 
withdrawal from things of the world; no outside influ- 
ences disturbed his communing with himself, and it is this 
communing that imparts a vague and visionary atmos- 
phere, a ghostly thrill to every page of the volume. 

Yet here was he, in the forty-fifth year of his age, a 
master amongst masters, arguing with solemn earnestness 
upon the use or mis-use of the word "shall" and ''will," 
begging Professor Hall Chamberlain for information and 

''You will scarcely be able to believe me, I imagine, 
but I must confess that your letter on 'shall' and 'will' 
is a sort of revelation in one sense — it convinces me that 
some people, and I suppose all people of fine English 
culture, really feel a sharp distinction of meaning in the 



sight and sound of the words *wiir and 'shall/ I con- 
fess also that I never have felt such a distinction, and 
cannot feel it now. I have been guided chiefly by 
euphony, and the sensation of *wiir as softer and gentler 
than 'shall.' The word *shair in the second person es- 
pecially has for me a queer identification with English 
harshness and menace, — ^memories of school perhaps. I 
shall study the differences by your teaching and try to 
avoid mistakes, but I think I shall never be able to feel 
the distinction. The tone to me is everything — the word 
nothing. ' ' 

The best essays in *'Kokoro'' were inspired, not by 
Kobe, but by Kyoto, one of the most beautiful cities in 
Japan, seat of the ancient government and stronghold of 
the ancient creeds. It lies only a short distance from 
Kobe, and many were the days and hours that Heam 
spent dreaming in the charming old-fashioned hotel and 
picking up impressions amidst the Buddhist shrines and 
gardens of the surrounding country. ' ' Notes from a Trav- 
elling Diary,'' '*Pre-existence," and the charming sketch 
^^Kimiko," written on the text *'To wish to be forgotten 
by the beloved is a soul-task harder far than trying not to 
forget," all originated in Kyoto. 

In a letter to his sister dated March 11th, 1895, he 
alludes to his book *'Kokoro." 

*'My sweet little beautiful sister, since my book is being 
so long delayed I may anticipate matters by telling you 
something of the so-called Ancestor- Worship of which I 
spoke in my last letter. The subject is not in any popular 
work on Japan, and I think should interest you, if for no 
other reason than that you are yourself such a sweet little 

''When a person dies in Japan, a little tablet is made 
which stands upon a pedestal, and is about a foot high. 
On this narrow tablet is inscribed either the real name of 



the dead, or the Buddhist name given to the soul. This is 
the Mortuary Tablet, or as you have sometimes seen it 
called in books, the Ancestral Tablet. 

**If children die they also have tablets in the home, 
but they are not prayed to, — but prayed for. Nightly the 
Mother talks to her dead child, advising, reminding, with 
words of caress, — just as if the little one were alive, and 
a tiny lamp is lighted to guide the little ghostly feet home. 

^'Well, I do not want to write a dry essay for you, but 
in view of all the unkind things said about Japanese be- 
liefs, I thought you might like to hear this, for I think you 
will feel there is something beautiful in the rule of rever- 
ence to the dead. 

*'I hope, though I am not at all sure, that you will re- 
ceive some fairy tales by this same mail, — as I have trusted 
the sending of them to a Yokohama friend. Here there 
are no book-houses at all — only shops for the sale of school 
texts. Should you get the stories, I want you to read 
the 'Matsuyama Mirror' first. There is a ghostly beauty 
that I think you will feel deeply. After all, the simplest 
stories are the best. 

"I wanted to say many more things; but the mail is 
about to leave, and I must stop to-day. 

"My little fellow is trying hard to talk and to walk. 
He is now very fair and strong. 

*'Tell me, dear little beautiful sister, how you are al- 
ways, — give me good news of yourself, — and love me a 
little bit. I will write soon again. 

''Lapcadio Hearn." 

In November, 1895, Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain 
visited him at Kobe, and then probably the possibility was 
discussed of Hearn's re-entering the government service 
as professor of English in the Imperial University at 
Tokyo. But as late as April, 1896, he still seemed un- 



certain that his engagement under government was as- 

Professor Toyama wrote to him, saying that his becom- 
ing a Japanese citizen had raised a difficulty, which he 
hoped might be surmounted. Hearn replied, that he was 
not worried about the matter, and had never allowed him- 
self to consider it very seriously — ^hinting, at the same 
time, that he would not accept a lower salary. If Matsue 
only had been a little warmer in the winter, he would rather 
be teaching there than in Tokyo, in any event he hoped 
some day to make a home there. 

About this time comes Hearn ^s last letter to his sister : — 

*'My dear little Sis, 

''What you say about writing for English papers, etc., 
is interesting, but innocent. Men do not get opportuni- 
ties to dispose of any MS. to advantage without one of 
two conditions. Either they must have struck a popular 
vein — become popular as writers ; or they must have social 
influence. I am not likely to become popular, and I have 
no social influence. No good post would be given me, — as 
I am not a man of conventions, and I am highly offensive 
to the Orthodoxies who have always tried to starve me to 
death — ^without success, happily, as yet. I am looking, how- 
ever, for an English publisher, and hope some day to get a 
hearing in some London print. But for the time being, it 
is not what I wish that I can get, but what I can. Perhaps 
your eyes will open wide with surprise to hear that I shall 
get nothing, or almost nothing for my books. The con- 
tracts deprive me of all but a nominal percentage on the 
2nd thousand. 

''Well, this is only a line to thank you for your sweet 
little letter. I have Marjory's too, and shall write her 
soon. Love, ''Lafcadio. 

** Excuse eyes. 



*'P.S. — I reopened this letter to add a few lines on sec- 
ond thought. 

*'You wrote in your last about Sir F. Ball. His ex- 
pression of pleasure about my books may have been merely 
politeness to a pretty lady, — my sweet little sister. But 
it may have been genuine — probably was partly so. He 
could very easily say a good word for me to the Editors 
of the great Reviews, — the Fortnightly, Nineteenth Cen- 
tury, etc. — though I am not sure whether his influence 
would weigh with them very greatly. 

*'At all events what I need is *a friend at Court,' — and 
need badly. Perhaps, perhaps only, my little sis could 
help me in that direction. I think I might ask you, — when 
possible, to try. The help an earnest man wants isn't 
money : it is opportunity. 

** We have a cozy little home in Kobe, and Kobe is pretty, 
but I fear I shall have to leave it by the time this reaches 
you. Therefore perhaps it will be better to address me: 
*c/o James E. Beale, Japan Daily Mail, Yokohama, 
Japan.' I shall soon send Kajiwo's last photo with some 
more fairy tales written by myself for your 'bairns.' 

"Love to you, 

''L. H." 

As Lafcadio Hearn's biographer, I almost shrink from 
saying that this was the last letter of the series written 
to his sister, Mrs. Atkinson. It somehow was so satisfactory 
to think of the exile having resumed intercourse with 
his own people, and with his native land ; but with however 
deep a feeling of regret, the fact must be acknowledged 
that he suddenly put an end to the intercourse for some 
unaccountable reason. He not only never wrote again, 
but returned her envelope, empty of its contents, without 
a line of explanation. Mrs. Atkinson has puzzled over 
the enigma many times, but has never been able to fathom 



the reason for sucli an action on the part of her eccentric 
half-brother. There was nothing, she declares, in her let- 
ter to wound even his irritable nerves. At one time she 
thought it might have been in consequence of the attempts 
of various other members of the family to open a corre- 
spondence with him; he reiterated several times to Mrs. 
Atkinson the statement that *'one sister was enough." 
I, on the other hand, think the key may with more proba- 
bility be found in a passage from one of his letters written 
at this time, saying he had received letters from relatives 
in England that had made his thoughts not blue, but 
indigo blue. A longing had entered his heart that each 
year henceforward became stronger, to return to his na- 
tive land, to hold communion with those of his own race; 
this nostalgia was rendered acute by his sister's letters, 
his literary work was interfered with and his nerves up- 
set; he therefore made up his mind suddenly to stop the 

The person who behaved thus was the same erratic 
creature, who, having previously made an appointment, 
on going to keep it, rang the bell and then, seized with 
nervous panic — ran away; or had fits of nervous depres- 
sion lasting for days because a printer had put a few 
commas in the wrong place or misspelt some Japanese 
words. Hearn possessed supreme intellectual courage, 
would stick to his artistic *^ pedestal of faith'' with a de- 
termination that was heroic, but where his nerves were 
concerned he was an arrant coward. If letters, or argu- 
ments with friends, flurried him, or awakened uncongenial 
thoughts or memories, he was capable of putting the letters 
away unread, and breaking off a friendship that had lasted 
for years. 

Thinking his silence might be caused by ill-health, Mrs. 
Atkinson wrote several times. The only answer she re- 
ceived was from Mr. James Beale of the Japan Mail: — 



*'JAPAN Mail O/^ioe, 

"July 9th, 1896. 

**Deab Madam, 
**I hasten to relieve your anxiety in regard to your 
brother's health. I have just returned from an expedi- 
tion in the North, and previous to leaving about a month 
ago, was on the point of asking Hearn if he could ac- 
company me, because it was a part of the country which 
he has never visited, but about that time I received a 
letter from him in which he stated that he was very busy 
(I believe he has another book on the stocks), and I did 
not mention the matter when I wrote. His letter was 
written in a very cheerful strain and indicated no illness 
or trouble with his eyes. In regard to the latter I have 
heard nothing since the spring of '95, when, through rest 
from study, they had recovered their normal condition. 
As Hearn once lived in a very isolated town on the 
West Coast I used to receive letters and other postal mat- 
ter for him and do little commissions for him here, and 
I remember at times English letters passing through my 
hands. These were all carefully reposted to him as they 
came, and I should say that your letters had undoubtedly 
reached him. 

*'No apology is necessary on your part, as I am pleased 
to afford you whatever consolation you may find in the 
knowledge of the fact that your brother is alive and well. 
I think I may venture to say that if he has neglected his 
friends it is due to being busy. 

**I send you his address below. 
** Yours faithfully, 

**JAS. Ellacott Beale. 



"2^0. 16, ZashiU, 

"Shichi-chome, Bangai, 
^'Naka Zamate-dori, 
"Xo&e, Japan. 

'*Mrs. M. C. Buckley- Atkinson. 

** Since writing the foregoing I have learned that your 
brother has been appointed to a post in the University. 
The annonneement will appear in to-morrow's Mail. 

''This appointment will necessitate Hearn's removal to 
the capital, and as the vacation expires on September 
15, the address at Kobe I have given will not find him. 
As soon as his Tokyo address reaches me I will send it to 

"J. E. B." 

As a set-off to this unaccountable break in his corre- 
spondence with his sister, I would like to end this chapter 
with a touching and pathetic letter, addressed to Mrs. 
Watkin at Cincinnati, and another to his "Old Dad,'' 
friends of over twenty years' standing, but unfortunately 
am not able to do so. Hitherto Hearn's affection had 
been given to Mr. Watkin ; of his female belongings he had 
seen but little. Now apparently, Mrs. and Miss Effie Wat- 
kin ventured to address the "great man," as their hus- 
band's and father's eccentric Bohemian little friend had 
become. To Mrs. Watkin he touches on the mysteries 
of spiritualism which were scarcely mysteries in the Far 
East; some day he hoped to drop in on all the circle 
he loved and talk ghostliness. Some hints of it appeared, 
he said, in a little book of his, "Out of the East." He 
imagined Mr. Watkin to be more like Homer than ever. 
He himself had become grey and wrinkled, fat, too, and 
disinclined for violent exercise. In other words, he was 
getting down the shady side of the hill, the horizon be- 
fore him was already darkening, and the winds blowing 



out of it cold. He was not in the least concerned about 
the enigmas, he said, except that he wondered what his 
boy would do if he were to die. To his ''Old Dad" he 
writes a whimsically affectionate letter, his old and dear- 
est friend, he calls him. Practical, material people pre- 
dicted that he was to end in gaol, or at the termination 
of a rope, but his ''Old Dad" always predicted he would 
be able to do something. He was anxious for as much suc- 
cess as he could get for his son 's sake. To have the future 
of others to care for certainly changed the face of life ; he 
worked and hoped, the best and only thing to do. 




". . . No ono ever lived who seemed more a creature of cir- 
cumstance than I; I drift with various forces in the line of least 
resistance, resolve to love nothing, and love always too much for my 
own peace of mind, — places, things, and persons, — and lo! presto! 
everything is swept away, and becomes a dream, like life itself. Per- 
haps there will be a great awakening; and each will cease to be an. 
Ego: become an All, and will know the divinity of man by seeing, as 
the veil falls, himself in each and all." 

One of the greatest sacrifices that Hearn ever made, — 
and he made many for the sake of his wife and family 
— was the giving up of his life in the patriarchal Japan 
of mystery and tradition, with its Yashikis and ancient 
shrines — to inhabit the modernised metropolis of Tokyo. 
The comparative permanency of the appointment and the, 
for Japan, high salary of twenty pounds a year, combined 
with the fact that lecturing was less arduous for his eye- 
sight than journalistic work on the Kohe Chronicle, were 
the principal inducements. Still, it was one of the ironies 
of Fate that this shy, irritable creature, who had an in- 
veterate horror of large cities and a longing to get back 
to an ancient dwelling surrounded by shady gardens, and 
high, moss-grown walls, should have been obliged to spend 
the last eight years of his life in a place pulsating with 
life, amidst commercial push and bustle. 

His wife, on the other hand, longed to live in the capital, 
as Frenchwomen long to live in Paris. Tokyo, the really 
beautiful Tokyo — of the old stories and picture-books — 



still existed in her provincial mind; she knew all the fa- 
mous names, the bridges, streets, and temples. 

Hearn appears to have made an expedition from Kobe 
to Tokyo at the beginning of the year 1896, to spy out 
the land and decide what he would do. To his friend, 
Ellwood Hendrik, he writes, giving him a description of 
the university, such a contrast in every way to his precon- 
ceived ideas, with its red-brick colleges and imposing 
facade, a structure that would not appear out of place in 
the city of Boston or Philadelphia, or London. 

After his final acceptance of the appointment, and his 
move to the capital, he experienced considerable difficulty 
in finding a house. 21, Tomihasa-chio, Ichigaya, situated 
in Ushigome, a Suburb of Tokyo, was the one he at last 
selected. He describes it as a bald utilitarian house with 
no garden, no surprises, no delicacies, no chromatic con- 
trasts, a ** rat-trap, * ' compared to most Japanese houses, 
that were many of them so beautiful that ordinary mor- 
tals hardly dared to walk about in them. 

In telling the story of Lafcadio Hearn 's life at Tokyo, 
it is well to remember that he only occupied the house 
where his widow now lives at Nishi Okubo for two years 
before his death. The bulk of his literary work was done at 
21, Tomihasa-chio. 

When I was at Tokyo I endeavoured to find the house, 
but my ignorance of the language, the ''fantastic riddle 
of streets, ' ' that constitute a Tokyo suburb, to say nothing 
of the difficulties besetting a stranger in dealing with 
Japanese jinrikisha men, obliged me at last to abandon 
the quest as hopeless. I did not even succeed in tracing 
the proprietor, a sake-hrewer, who had owned eight hun- 
dred Japanese houses in the neighbourhood, or in locating 
the old Buddhist temple of Kobduera, where Hearn spent 
so much of his time, wandering in the twilight of the great 
trees, dreaming out of space, out of time. 



The suburb of Ushigome is situated at some distance 
from the university. One hour daily to go, and one to 
return by jinrikisha. But Hearn had one joy; he was 
able to congratulate himself on the absence of visitors. 
Any one who endeavoured to invade the solitude of his 
suburban abode must have "webbed feet and been able to 
croak and spawn!" 

Hearn 's description of Tokyo might be placed as a 
pendant to his celebrated description of New York City. 
To any one who has visited the Japanese metropolis during 
the last five years, it is most vividly realistic — ^the size 
of the place, stretching over miles of country; here the 
quarter of the foreign embassies, looking like a well- 
painted American suburb — near by an estate with quaint 
Chinese gates several centuries old ; a little farther, square 
miles of indescribable squalor; then miles of military 
parade-ground trampled into a waste of dust, and bounded 
by hideous barracks; then a great park full of weird 
beauty, the shadows all black as ink; then square miles 
of streets of shops, which burn down once a year; then 
more squalor; then rice-fields and bamboo-groves; then 
more streets. Gigantic reservoirs with no water in them, 
great sewer pipes without any sanitation. ... To 
think of art, or time, or eternity, he said, in the dead waste 
and muddle of this mess, was difficult. But Setsu v/as 
happy — like a bird making its nest, she was fixing up her 
new home, and had not yet had time to notice what ugly 
weather it was. 

In spite of grumbling and complaints about his sur- 
roundings at Tokyo, there were redeeming features that 
rendered the position comparatively tolerable. Some of 
his old pupils from Izumo were now students at the Im- 
perial University; they were delighted to welcome their 
old professor, seeking help and sympathy as in days gone 
by. Knowing Hearn 's irritable and sensitive disposition, 



the affection and respect entertained for him by his pupils 
at the various colleges in which he taught, and the manner 
in which he was given his own way and his authority up- 
held, even when at variance with the directors, speaks well 
both for him and his employers. 

His work, too, was congenial. He threw himself into 
the preparation and delivery of his lectures heart and 
soul. To take a number of orientals, and endeavour to 
initiate them in the modes of thought and feeling of a 
people inhabiting a mental and moral atmosphere as far 
apart as if England and Japan were on different planets, 
might well seem an impossible task. 

In summing up the valuable work which Heam ac- 
complished in his interpretation of the "West to the East, 
these lectures, delivered while professor of English litera- 
ture at Kumamoto and Tokyo, must not be forgotten. 
At the end of her two delightful volumes of Hearn's 
*'Life and Letters," Mrs. Wetmore gives us one of them, 
delivered at Tokyo University, taken down at the time 
by T. Ochiai, one of his students. Another is given by 
Tone Noguchi in his book on "Heam in Japan." They 
are fair examples of the manner in which Hearn spoke, not 
to their intellects, but to their emotions. His theory was 
that beneath the surface the hearts of all nationalities 
are alike. An emotional appeal, therefore, was more likely 
to be understood than a mechanical explanation of 
technique and style. 

The description of the intrigue and officialism, the per- 
petual panic in which the foreign professors at the uni- 
versity lived, given by Hearn in a letter to Ellwood 
Hendrik, is extremely funny. Earthquakes were the order 
of the day. Nothing but the throne was fixed. In the Ori- 
ent, where intrigue has been cultivated as an art for ages, 
the result of the adoption of constitutional government, 
by a race accustomed to autocracy and caste, caused disloy- 



alty and place-hunting to spead in new form, through every 
condition of society, and almost into every household. 
Nothing, he said, was ever stable in Japan. The whole 
official world was influenced by under-currents of all sorts, 
as full of changes as a sea off a coast of tides, the side- 
currents penetrating everywhere, swirling round the writ- 
ing-stool of the smallest clerk, whose pen trembled with 
fear for his wdf e 'r and babies ' rice. . . . * ' If a man made 
an observation about facts, there was instantly a scatter- 
ing away from that man as from dynamite. By common 
consent he was isolated for weeks. Gradually he would 
collect a group of his own, but presently somebody in 
another part would talk about things as they ought to 
be, — bang, fizz, chaos and confusion. The man was dan- 
gerous, an intriguer, etc., etc. Being good or clever, or 
generous or popular, or the best man for the place, 
counted for nothing. . . . And I am as a flea in a 
wash-bowl. ' ' 

The ordinary functions and ceremonials connected with 
his professorship were a burden that worried and galled a 
nature like Heam's. 

Every week he was obliged to decline almost nightly 
invitations to dinner. He gives a sketch of the ordinary 
obligations laid upon a university professor: fourteen lec- 
tures a week, a hundred official banquets a year, sixty 
private society dinners, and thirty to fifty invitations to 
charitable, musical, uncharitable and non-musical colonial 
gatherings, etc., etc., etc. 

No was said to everything, softly; but if he had ac- 
cepted, how could he exist, breathe, even have time to 
think, much less write books ? At first the professors were 
expected to appear in a uniform of scarlet and gold at 
official functions. The professors were restive under the 
idea of gold — ^luckily for themselves. 

He gives a description of a ceremonious visit paid by 



the Emperor to the university; he was expected to put 
on a frock-coat, and headgear that inspired the Moham- 
medan curse, "May God put a Hat on you!" All the 
professors were obliged to stand out in the sleet and snow 
— no overcoats allowed, though it was horribly cold. They 
were twice actually permitted to bow down before His 
Majesty. Most of them got cold, but nothing more for 
the nonce. "Lowell discovered one delicious thing in the 
Far East — 'The Gate of everlasting Ceremony.' But the 
ancient ceremony was beautiful. Swallow-tails and plugs 
are not beautiful. My little wife tells me: * Don't talk 
like that: even if a robber were listening to you upon 
the roof of the house, he would get angry.' So I am only 
saying to you: 'I don't see that I should be obliged to 
take cold, merely for the privilege of bowing to H. M. ' Of 
course this is half -jest, half -earnest. There is a reason for 
things — for anything except — a plug hat. . . ." 

As nearly as we can make out, his friend, Nishida Sen- 
taro, died during the course of this winter. He was an 
irreparable loss to Hearn, representing, as he did, all that 
constituted his most delightful memories of Japan. In 
his last book, '* Japan, an Interpretation," he alludes to 
him as the best and dearest friend he had in the country, 
who had told him a little while before his death : ' ' When 
in four or five years' further residence you find that you 
cannot understand the Japanese at all, then you may boast 
of beginning to know something about them." 

With none of the professors at the university at Tokyo 
does Hearn ever seem to have formed ties of intimacy. 
Curiously enough, the professor of French literature, a 
Jesuit priest, was to him the most sympathetic. Hearn 
in some things was a conservative, in others a radical. 
During the Boer War he took up the cause of the Dutch 
against the English, only because he inaccurately imag- 



ined the Boers to have been the original owners of Dutch 
South Africa. Protestant missionaries he detested, look- 
ing upon them as iconoclasts, destroyers of the beautiful 
ancient art, which had been brought to Japan by Buddhism. 
The Jesuits, on the other hand, favoured the preservation 
of ancient feudalism and ecclesiasticism. Hearn's former 
prejudices, therefore, on the subject of Roman Cathol- 
icism were considerably mitigated during his residence in 
Japan. He describes his landlord, the old sake-hrewer, 
coming to definitely arrange the terms of the lease of the 
house. When he caught sight of Kazuo he said, *'You 
are too pretty, — you ought to have been a girl." . . . 
* * That set me thinking, ' ' Hearn adds, ' ' if Kazuo feels like 
his father about pretty girls, — what shall I do with him? 
Marry him at seventeen or nineteen? Or send him to 
grim and ferocious Puritans that he may be taught the 
Way of the Lord? I am now beginning to think that 
really much of ecclesiastical education (bad and cruel 
as I used to imagine it) is founded upon the best experi- 
ence of man under civilisation; and I understand lots of 
things which I used to think superstitious bosh, and now 
think solid wisdom. ' ' 

He and the Jesuit professor of French got into a reli- 
gious discussion one day, and Hearn found him charming. 
Of course he looked upon Hearn as a heretic, and consid- 
ered all philosophy of the nineteenth century false, — 
everything, indeed, accomplished by free thought and 
Protestantism, folly, leading to ruin. But he and Hearn 
had sympathies in common, contempt of conventional re- 
ligion, scorn of missionaries, and recognition of the nat- 
urally religious character of the Japanese. 

After Nishida Sentaro's death, the only Japanese friend- 
ship that Hearn retained was that for Amenomori Nobush- 
ige, to whom "Kokoro" was dedicated: — 



''to my friend 
Amenomori Nobushige 

We first find Amenomori 's name mentioned in Hearn's 
letters the year he left Kumamoto for Kobe. When we 
were at Tokyo we were told that Amenomori 's widows who 
lives there, possesses a voluminous correspondence that 
passed between her husband and Hearn, principally on the 
subject of Buddhism. Some day I imagine it will be pub- 
lished. To Amenomori, as to others, Hearn poured out 
his despair at the uncongenial surroundings of Tokyo; he 
wanted new experiences, and Tokyo was not the place for 
them. "Perhaps the power to feel a thrill dies with the 
approach of a man's fiftieth year — perhaps the only land 
to find the new sensation is in the Past, — floats blue peaked 
under some beautiful dead sun in the 'tropic clime of 
youth.' Must I die and be born again, to feel the charm 
of the Far East — or will Amenomori Nobushige discover 
for me some unfamiliar blossom growing beside the foun- 
tain of Immortality ? Alas ! I don 't know. . . . " 

Amenomori seems to have had a real affection for the 
eccentric little genius, and to have philosophically accepted 
his fits of temper and apparently unaccountable vagaries. 
In the company of all Japanese, however, even the most 
highly cultivated, Hearn declared that all occidentals felt 
unhappy after an hour's communion. When the first 
charm of formality is over, the Japanese suddenly drifts 
away into his own world, as far from this one as the star 

Mitchell McDonald, paymaster of the United States 
navy, stationed at Yokohama, was apparently the only 
person for whom Hearn cherished a warm human senti- 
ment at this time beyond his immediate family circle. 

In Miss Bisland's account of her "Flying Trip Around 



the World'' she mentions McDonald of Yokohama — in 
brown boots and corduroys — as escorting her to various 
places of interest during her short stay in Japan. It was 
apparently through her intervention that the introduction 
of Lafcadio Heam was effected, and must have taken 
place almost immediately on Ream's arrival in Japan, 
for he mentions McDonald in one of his first letters to Ell- 
wood Hendrik, and '* Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" was 
dedicated to him in conjunction with Chamberlain. 

''After all I am rather a lucky fellow," he writes to 
McDonald, '*a most peculiarly lucky fellow, principally 
owing to the note written by a certain sweet young lady, 
whose portrait now looks down on me from the ceiling of 
No. 21, Tomihasa-chio. " 

Writing from Tokyo to Mrs. Wetmore, in January, 1900, 
he tells her that above the table was a portrait of a young 
American officer in uniform, — a very dear picture. Many 
a time, Hearn said, they had sat up till midnight, talking 
about things. 

The conversation at these dinners, eaten overlooking the 
stretch of Yokohama Harbour, with the sound of the waves 
lapping on the harbour wall beneath, and the ships and 
boats passing to and fro beyond, never seems to have been 
about literary matters, which perhaps accounts for the 
friendship between the two lasting so long. * ' Like Antaeus 
I feel always so much more of a man, after a little contact 
with your reality, not so much of a literary man however. ' ' 

The salt spray that Hearn loved so well seemed to cling 
to McDonald, the breeziness of a sailor's yarning ran 
through their after-dinner talks, the adventures of naval 
life at sea, and at the ports where McDonald had touched 
during his service. He was always urging McDonald to 
give him material for stories, studies of the life of the 
''open ports" — only real facts — ^not names or dates — ^real 
facts of beauty, or pathos, or tragedy. He felt that all the 



life of the open ports is not commonplace ; there were hero- 
isms and romances in it; and there was really nothing in 
this world as wonderful as life itself. All real life was a 
marvel, but in Japan a marvel that was hidden as much as 
possible — *' especially hidden from dangerous chatterers 
like Lafcadio Hearn." 

If he could get together a book of short stories — six 
would be enough — he would make a dedication of it to M. 
McD. as prettily as he could. 

Under the soothing influence of a good cigar, Heam 
would even take his friend into his confidence about many 
incidents in his own past life — that past life vv'hich gener- 
ally was jealously guarded from the outside world. He 
tells McDonald the pleasure it gives him, his saying that he 
resembles his father, but "I have more smallness in me 
than you can suspect. How could it be otherwise! If a 
man lives like a rat for twenty or twenty-five years he 
must have acquired something of the disposition peculiar 
to house rodents, mustn't he?" 

The communion between these two was more like that^ 
between some popular, athletic, sixth-form boy at Eton,^ 
whose softer side had been touched by the forlornness of a 
shy, sickly, bullied minor, than that between two middle- 
aged men, one representing the United States in an official 
capacity, the other one of the most famous writers of the 
day. The first letter relates to a visit that McDonald ap- 
parently paid to Ushigome, an audacious proceeding that 
few ventured upon. 

Hearn expressed his appreciation of McDonald's good 
nature in coming to his miserable little shanty, over a 
muddy chaos of street — the charming way in which he 
accepted the horrid attempt at entertainment, and his 
interest and sympathy in Heam's affairs. 

In the house at Nishi Okubo mementoes are still pre- 
served of McDonald's visits. A rocking-chair, — rare piece 



of furniture in a Japanese establishment — a spirit lamp, 
and an American cigar-ash holder. 

McDonald apparently saw, as Dr. Papellier had seen at 
Kobe, that Hearn was killing himself by his ascetic Japa- 
nese mode of life. Raw fish and lotus roots were not food 
suited for the heavy brain work Hearn was doing, besides 
his professional duties at the university. McDonald, there- 
fore, insisted en being allowed to send him wine and deli- 
cacies of all sorts. 

"With reference to the 'best,' " Hearn WTites, *'you 
are a dreadful man! How could you think that I have 
got even half way to the bottom ? I have only drunk three 
bottles yet, but that is a shameful ' only. ' ' ' 

They seemed to have exchanged books and discussed 
things, and laughed and made jokes school-boy fashion. 
Hearn talks of their sprees, their dinners, their tiffins, 
* * irresistibles, " and alludes to ''blue ghost" and "blue 
soul" — ^names given to some potation partaken of at the 
club or at the hotel. It shows McDonald's powers of per- 
suasion that Hearn was tempted out of his shell at Ushi- 
gome to pass two or three days at Yokohama. Sunlit 
hours were these in the exile's life. Three days passed 
with his friend at Yokohama were, Hearn declares, the 
most pleasurable in a pilgrimage of forty-seven years. 

' ' What a glorious day we did have ! " he says again. 
"Wonder if I shall ever be able to make a thumb-nail 
literary study thereof, — with philosophical reflections. 
The Naval Officer, the Buddhist Philosopher (Amenomori), 
and the wandering Evolutionist. The impression is alto- 
gether too sunny and happy and queer, to be forever lost 
to the world. I must think it up some day. . . ." 
There is something pathetic in these healthy-minded, 
healthy-bodied men petting and making much of the little 
genius, half in pity, half in admiration, recognising in an 
indefinite way that some divine attribute was his. 



McDonald, in his enthusiastic sailor fashion, used to 
express his belief in Hearn's genius, telling him that he 
was a greater writer than Loti. Being a practical person, 
he was apparently continually endeavouring to try and 
induce his little friend to take a monetary view of his in- 
tellectual capacities. Ilearn tells him that he understands 
why he wished him to write fiction— he wanted him to 
make some profit out of his pen, and he knew that ' ' fiction ' ' 
was about the only stuff that realh^ paid. Then he sets 
forth the reasons why men like himself didn't write more 
fiction. First of all, he had little knowledge of life, and 
by that very want of knowledge was debarred from mix- 
ing vdih the life which alone can furnish the material. 
They can divine, but must have some chances to do that, 
for society everj^where suspects them. ]\Ien like Kipling 
belong to the great Life Struggle, and the world believes 
them and worships them; "but Dreamers that talk about 
pre-existence, and who think diiferentlj" from common- 
sense folk, are quite outside of social existence." 

Then his old dream of being able to travel was again 
adverted to, or even an independence that would liberate 
him from slavery to officialdom — but he had too many little 
butterfly lives to love and take care of. His dream of 
even getting to Europe for a time to put his boy to college 
there must remain merely a possibility. 

The only interruption to tlie harmony of the communion 
between the two friends was Hearn's dislike of meeting 
the inquisitive occidental tourist; this dislike attained at 
last the proportions of an obsession, and the more he with- 
drew and shut himself up, the more did legendary tales 
circle round him, and the more determined were outsiders 
to get behind the veil that he interposed between himself 
and them. 

He went in and out the back way so as to avoid the 
risk of being seen from afar off. Thursday last, he tells 



McDonald, three enemies dug at his hole, but he zigzagged 
away from them. 

He adverts, too, to a woman, who had evidently never 
seen or known him, who spelt his name Lefcardio, and 
pestered him with letters. ''Wish you would point out to 
her somebody who looks small and queer, and tell her * that 
is Mr. Hearn, he is waiting to see you. ' ' ' 

The curiosity animating these people, he declared, was 
simply the kind of curiosity that impelled them to look at 
strange animals — six-legged calves, for instance. His 
friends, he declared, were as dangerous, if not more dan- 
gerous, than his enemies, for these latter, with infinite 
subtlety, kept him out of places where he hated to go, and 
told stories of him to people to whom it would be vanity 
and vexation to meet, and their unconscious aid helped 
him so that he almost loved them. 

But his friends ! — they were the real destroyers, they 
praised his work, believed in it, and yet, not knowing what 
it cost, would break the wings and scatter the feather-dust, 
even as a child caressing a butterfly. Converse and sym- 
pathy might be precious things to others, but to him 
they were deadly, for they broke up habits of industry, 
and caused the sin of disobedience to the Holy Ghost — 
** against whom sin shall not be forgiven, — either in this 
life, or in the life to come. ' ' 

Sometimes he wished, he said, that he were lost upon 
the mountains, or cast away upon a rock, rather than in 
the terrible city of Tokyo. ''Yet here I am, smoking a 
divine cigar — out of my friend's gift-box — and brutally 
telling him that he is killing my literary soul, or souls. 
Am I right or wrong? I feel like kicking myself. And 
yet I feel that I ought never again in this world to visit the 
Grand Hotel." In spite of these protestations, however, 
McDonald would lure him to come down again and again 
to Yokohama, and again and again make him smoke good 



cigars, drink good wine, and eat nourishing food. Once, 
when the little man had, with characteristic carelessness, 
forgotten to bring a great-coat, McDonald wrapped him 
up in his own to send him home — an incident which Hearn 
declared he would remember for its warmth of friendship 
until he died. Another time, when he complained of 
toothache, McDonald got the navy doctor to remove, as he 
thought, the primary cause. Hearn gives a humorous ac- 
count of this incident. He found that when he returned 
home the wrong one had been pulled. Its character, he 
said, had been modest and shrinking, the other one, on the 
contrary, had been Mount Vesuvius, the last great Javanese 
earthquake, the tidal wave of '96, and the seventh chamber 
of the Inferno, all in mathematical combination. 

It was magnanimous of Hearn to dedicate ' * Gleanings in 
Buddha Fields" to the doctor after this incident. Mc- 
Donald and his genial surroundings seemed to have thor- 
oughly understood how to manage the little man. When 
he became irritable and unreasonable they apparently took 
not the least notice, and good-naturedly wheedled him 
back into a good temper again — treated him, in fact, as 
Mr. Watkin had treated him during his attacks of temper 
at Cincinnati. 

So, without any real break, this friendship, as well as 
Mrs. Wetmore's, lasted until the end. Since Hearn 's 
death. Captain IMcDonald has loyally stood by his widow 
and children, taking upon himself the self-imposed duties 
of executor, collecting together scattered MS., and arrang- 
ing the sale of the copyright of his books in the United 



"Every one lias an inner life of his own, — which no other eye can 
see, and the great secrets of which are never revealed, although occa- 
sionally, when we create something beautiful, we betray a faint 
glimpse of it — sudden and brief, as of a door opening and shutting 
in the night. . . . Are we not all Dopplegangers ? — and is not 
the invisible the only life we really enjoy?" 

In spite of his railings against Tokyo, Hearn was prob- 
ably happier at Ushigome and Nishi Okubo than he had 
ever been during his other sojournings in Japan, excepting 
always the enchanted year at Matsue. 

To paraphrase George Barrow, there was day and night, 
both sweet things, sun, moon, and stars, all sweet things, 
likewise there was the wind that rustled through the bam- 

Hearn had all the oriental's scorn of comfort: so long 
as he could indulge in the luxury of dreaming and writ- 
ing, his pipe and Webster's Dictionary within reach, he 
asked for little else. 

This master of impressionist prose confessed — in his dif- 
fident and humble manner where his art was concerned — 
that now for the first time he began to write English with 
ease. Roget's ''Thesaurus," and Skeat's ''Etymological 
Dictionary" were definitely discarded. He recognised, 
also, that he had caught the ear of the public, not only in 
America but in England. 

The manner of Hearn 's life at this time entirely con- 
tradicts his pessimistic statements, that "the Holy Ghost 
had deserted him . . . ," that "he had lost his pen of 



fire . . . ," and that he was ** like a caged cicada that 
could not sing. ' ' 

No author who writes and publishes can ever really, in 
his heart of hearts, be a pessimist. There is no conviction 
so optimistic as thinking that your thoughts and opinions 
are worth setting forth for the benefit of the public. 

Though he had not much sympathy with Japanese and 
foreign professors, and clashed now and then with the 
officials at the Imperial University, at home he enjoyed the 
most complete tranquillity; all is noiseless in a Japanese 
house, not a footfall audible on the soft matting, every- 
thing was favourable to absorption in his work. 

He was an early riser, always at his desk by six o'clock, 
pipe in one hand and pen in the other. ''Even when in 
bed with a cold, or not feeling well," his wife tells us, 
' ' it was always, write, write, write. ' ' Sometimes she found 
him in the library,, jumping for joy because he had a new 
idea. She would ask him, "Did you finish your last 
story?" Sometimes he would answer, "That story has to 
wait for some time. Perhaps a month — perhaps a year — 
perhaps five years ! ' ' He kept one story in his drawer for 
seven long years before it was finished. I believe that 
many stories of his were left unfinished in his drawer, or, 
at least, in the drawer of his mind when he passed aAvay. 

Though perturbed every now and then by the little 
man's fits of excitement and temper — phases of mind un- 
known to her own countrymen — and though she shrink- 
ingly recognised the neighbours' suspicion that he was 
slightly crazy, Setsu Koizumi nourished a deep affection 
for her foreign husband, and Hearn, on the other hand, 
though intellectually an abyss might yawn between them, 
had the greatest respect for his wife's common-sense. 

"I have learnt to be guided by K.'s mamma," he says, 
writing eight years after his marriage — "indeed, no occi- 
dental-born could manage a purely Japanese household, 



or direct Japanese according to his own light, things are 
so opposite, so eccentric, so provoking at times, — so impos- 
sible to understand. ... By learning to abstain from 
meddling, I have been able to keep my servants from the 
beginning, and have learned to prize some of them at their 
weight in gold. ' ' 

Quaint and pathetic sidelights are cast upon this strange 
Anglo- Japanese union by Mrs. Hearn's recently-published 
*' Reminiscences" and by various letters of his to friends. 
*'I was reproached very justly on reaching home last 
night," Lafcadio tells Mitchell McDonald. '' 'But you 
did not bring your American friend's picture? . . . 
Forgot to put it into the valise ? . . . Oh ! but you are 
queer — always, always dreaming ! And don 't you feel just 
a little bit ashamed?' " 

On another occasion, the little woman, seeing by the 
expression of his face that he was in a bad temper when 
writing to his publisher, got possession of the letter and 
''posted it in a drawer," asking him next day whether he 
would not like to withhold some of the correspondence. 
He acted on the hint thus wisely given, and the letter 
"was never sent." 

She describes him blowing for fun into a conch shell 
he had bought one day at Enoshima, delighting, like a 
mischievous boy, in the billowy sound that filled the room ; 
or holding it to his ear to "listen to the murmur of the 
august abodes from whence it came." Happy in his gar- 
den and simple things — "the poet's home is to him the 
whole world," as the Japanese poem says — we see him 
talking, laughing, and singing at meals. "He had two 
kinds of laughter," his wife says, "one being a womanish 
sort of laughter, soft and deep ; the other joyous and open- 
hearted, a catching sort of laughter, as if all trouble were 
forgotten, and when he laughed the whole household I 
laughed, too." ? 



His multiplying family was growing up healthy and 
intelligent. He was kept in touch with youth and vigorous 
life, through intercourse with them and his pupils at the 
university. The account given us of his merrymaking 
with his children puts a very different aspect on Hearn's 
nature and outlook on life. However crabbed and re- 
served his attitude towards the outside world might be, 
at home with his children he was the cheeriest of com- 
rades, expansive and affectionate. Sometimes he would 
play ^'onigokko/' or devil-catching play (hide-and-seek), 
with them in the garden. ''Though no adept in the Japa- 
nese language, he succeeded in learning the words of sev- 
eral children's songs, the Tokyo Sunset Song, for in- 
stance — 

Ko-yake ! 
Ashita wa tenki ni nare." 

"Evening-burning ! 
Weather, be fair to-morrow!" 

or the Song of *'Urashima Taro." 

He was much given to drawing, making pen-and-ink 
sketches illustrating quotations from English poetry for 
his eldest boy, Kazuo. Some of these which have re- 
cently been published are quite suggestively charming, dis- 
tinguished by that quaint sadness which runs through all 
his work. In one, illustrative of Kingsley's ''Three Fish- 
ers," though the lighthouse has a slight slant to leeward, 
the sea and clouds give an effect of storm and impending 
disaster which is wonderful. 

He was too near-sighted to be allowed to walk alone in 
the bustling, crowded streets of Tokyo ; he one day, indeed, 
sprained his ankle severely, stumbling over a heap of 
stones and earth that he did not see. But in Kazuo 's and 



his wife's company, he explored every corner of the dis- 
trict where he lived. He very seldom spoke, she tells us, 
as he walked with bent head, and they followed silently 
so as not to disturb his meditations. There was not a tem- 
ple unknown to him in Zoshigaya, Ochiai, and the neigh- 
bouring quarters. He always carried a little note-book, 
and frequently brought it out to make notes of what he 
saw as they passed along. 

An ancient garden belonging to a temple near his house 
was a favourite resort, until one day he found three of the 
cedar trees cut down ; this piece of vandalism, for the sake 
of selling the timber, made him so miserable that he refused 
any longer to enter the precincts, and for some time con- 
tented himself with a stroll round the lake in the univer- 
sity grounds. One of his students describes Heam's 
slightly stooping form, surmounted by a soft broad-brimmed 
hat, pacing slowly and contemplatively along the lake, or 
sitting upon a stone on the shore, smoking his Japanese 

Though Hearn hated the ceremonious functions con- 
nected with his professional position, he was by no means 
averse, during the first half of his stay at Tokyo, — whilst 
his health indeed still permitted the indulgences — to a 
good dinner and cigar, in congenial company at the club. 
He was often compelled, at dinner, we were told, to ask 
some one at his elbow what was in his plate ; sometimes a 
friend would make jestingly misleading replies, to which 
he would cheerfully respond: "Very well, if you can eat 
it, so can I.'' 

Professor Foxwell describes dining and then loafing and 
strolling and smoking with him. ''It was not so much the 
dinner he enjoyed, as the twilight afterwards in Ueno 
Park, the soft night air romantic with fireflies hovering 
amongst the luxurious foliage. Our intercourse, though 
constant and not to be forgotten, was nothing to describe. 



I think we never ar^ed or discussed the burning questions 
that divided the foreign community in Japan. We simply 
ate and drank and smoked, and in fact behaved as 'slack- 
ers. ' We delighted in the air, the sunshine, the babies, the 
flowers, nothing but trifles, things too absurd to recall." 

Various cultured people in foreign circles in Tokyo were 
anxious enough to initiate friendly relations with the lit- 
erary man whose Japanese books were beginning to make 
such a stir in the world, but Hearn kept them rigidly at 
a distance; indeed, as time went on he became more and 
more averse to mixing with his countrymen and country- 
women at Tokyo. He imagined that they were all inimical 
to him, and that he was the victim of gross injustice, and 
organised conspiracy. These prejudiced ideas were really 
the outcome of a peculiarly sensitive brain, lacking normal 
mental balance. Nothing but ''Old Japan" was admitted 
inside his garden fence. A motley company ! Well-clean- 
ers, pipe-stem makers, ballad-singers, an old fortune-teller 
who visited Hearn every season. 

We can see him seated beside Hearn in his study, telling 
his fortune, which he did four times, until, as Hearn tells 
us, his predictions were fulfilled in such-wise that he be- 
came afraid of them. A set of ebony blocks, which could 
be so arranged as to form any of the Chinese hexagrams, 
were his stock-in-trade, and he always began his divination 
with an earnest prayer to the gods. In the winter of 1903 
he was found frozen in the snow on the Izumo hills. 
*'Even the fortune-teller knows not his own fate," is a 
Japanese saying quoted by Hearn in connection with\the 

But it was at Yaidzu, a small fishing village on the east- 
ern coast, where he generally spent his summer vacation 
with his two boys, for sea-bathing, that he was in his ele- 

The Yaidzu people had the deepest affection and respect 



for him, and during the summer vacation he liked to be- 
come one of them, dressing as they did, and living their 
simple patriarchal life. Indeed, he preferred the friend- 
ship of country barbers, priests and fishermen far more 
than that of college professors. 

As there was no inn at Yaidzu, Hearn lodged at the 
house of Otokichi, who, as well as being a fisherman, kept 
a fish-shop, and cooked every description of fish in a won- 
derful variety of ways. Aided by Hearn 's description, we 
can see Otokichi 's shop, its rows of shelves supporting 
boxes of dried fish, packages of edible seaweed, bundles 
of straw sandals, gourds for holding sake, and bottles of 
lemonade, while surmounting all was the kamidana — ^the 
shelf of the gods — with its Daruma, or household di- 

Many and fanciful were his dreams as he loafed and 
lay on the beach at Yaidzu, sometimes thinking of the old 
belief, that held some dim relation between the dead and 
the human essence fleeting in the gale — floating in the 
mists — shuddering in the leaf — flickering in the light of 
waters — or tossed on the desolate coast in a thunder of 
surf, to whiten and writhe in the clatter of shingle. . . . 
At others, as when a boy at school, lying looking at the 
clouds passing across the sky, and imagining himself a 
part of the nature that was living and palpitating round 

It is impossible in the space at my command, to examine 
Hearn 's work at Tokyo in detail ; it consists of nine books. 
The first one published after his appointment as professor 
of English at the university was "Gleanings in Buddha 
Fields: Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East." 
Though it saw the light at Tokyo in 1897, the greater part 
of it is said to have been written at Kobe. Henceforth all 
his Japanese literary work was but "Gleanings,'' gathered 
in the fields he had ploughed and sown at Matsue, Kobe, 



Kumamoto and Kyoto. Every grain of impression, of 
reminiscence, scientific and emotional, was dropped into 
the literary mill. 

Amongst the essays comprising the volume entitled 
''Gleanings in Buddha Fields," there is nothing particu- 
larly arresting. His chapter on *' Nirvana" is hackneyed 
and unsubstantial, ending with the vaporous statement that 
''the only reality is One; all that we have taken for sub- 
stance is only shadow ; the physical is the unreal : and the 
outer-man is the ghost." 

In dealing with Hearn's genius we have to accept fre- 
quent contradictions and changes of statement. His de- 
ductions need classifying and substantiating, he often gen- 
eralises from insufficient premises, and over-emphasises the 
impression of the moment at the expense of accuracy. 

In his article on the "Eternal Feminine," he endeav- 
ours to prove that the Japanese man is incapable of love, 
as we understand it in the West. Having taken up an 
idea, he uses all his skill in the manipulation of words to 
support his view, even though in his inner consciousness he 
fostered a conviction that it was not exactly a correct one. 
The fact of occidental fiction being revolting to the Japa- 
nese moral sense is far-fetched. Many people amongst 
ourselves are of opiuion that in much of our fictional work 
the sexual question is given a great deal too much promi- 
nence; what wonder, therefore, that the male Japanese, 
being bound by social convention to keep all feeling under 
restraint, from the first moment he can formulate a 
thought, should look upon it as indecorous, and, above all, 
inartistic, to express his sentiments unreservedly on the 
subject of the deeper emotions, but that does not for a 
moment prove that he is incapable of feeling them. 

All Japanese art, poetry as well as painting, is impres- 
sionistic and suggestive instead of detailed. '^Ittakkiri'* 
(entirely vanished, in the sense of "all told"), is a term 



applied contemptuously to the poet who, instead of an in- 
dication, puts the emotion itself into words. 

The art of writing poetry is universal in Japan; verses, 
seldom consisting of more than two lines, are to be found 
upon shop-signs, panels, screens and fans. They are 
printed upon towels, draperies, curtains and women's 
crepe silk underwear, they are written by every one and 
for all occasions. Is a woman sad and lonely at home, she 
writes poems. Is a man unoccupied for an hour, he 
employs himself putting his thoughts into poetry. Hearn 
was continually on the quest of these simple poems: to 
Otani he writes, ''Please this month collect for me, if you 
can, some songs of the sound of the sea and the sound of 
the wind." The translations given by him in his essay 
entitled ' ' Out of the Street, ' ' contradict his statement that 
the Japanese are incapable of deep feeling, and prove that 
love is as important an element in the Island Empire as 
with us, though the expression is less outspoken. Some of 
them are charming. 

"To Heaven with all my soul I prayed to prevent your going; 
Already, to keep you with me, answers the blessed rain. 

"Things never changed since the Time of the Gods : 
The flowing of water, the Way of Love." 

His next book was *' Exotics and Retrospectives''; he 
thought of dedicating this volume to Mrs. Wetmore (Eliz- 
abeth Bisland), but in a letter to Ellwood Hendrik he ex- 
presses a doubt as to the advisability of doing so, as some 
of the essays might be rather of a startling character. Ulti- 
timately he dedicated it to H. H. Hall, late U. S. Navy, 
"In Constant Friendship." 

The prefatory note shows how permeated his mode of 
thought was at this time with Buddhistical theories. . . . 



''To any really scientific imagination, the curious analogy 
existing between certain teachings of Eastern faith, — par- 
ticularly the Buddhist doctrine that all sense-life is Karma, 
and all substance only the phenomenal result of acts and 
thoughts, — ^might have suggested something much more 
significant than my cluster of 'Retrospectives.' These are 
offered merely as intimations of a truth incomparably less 
difficult to recognise than to define." 

-> The first essay, describing his ascent of Fuji-no-yama, is 
as beautiful a piece of impressionistic prose as Hearn ever 
wrote — the immense poetry of the moment as he stood on 
the summit and looked at the view for a hundred leagues, 
and the pilgrims poised upon the highest crag, with faces 
tutned eastward, clapping their hands as a salutation to 
the mighty day. 

The colossal vision had already become a memory inef- 
faceable — a memory of which no luminous detail could 
fade till the light from the myriad millions of eyes that 
had looked for untold ages from the summit supreme of 
Fuji to the rising of the sun had been quenched, even to 
the hour when thought itself must fade, 

''Ghostly Japan," written in 1899, was dedicated 


Mrs. Alice von Behrens 
for auld lang syne. 

We cannot trace any mention of this lady elsewhere, but 
conclude she was one of his New York acquaintances. 

"Think not that dreams appear to the dreamer only at 
night : the dream of this world of pain appears to us even 
by day," is the translation of the Japanese poem on the 
first page. 

To Mitchell McDonald he wrote, saying that he did not 



quite know what to do with regard to ''Ghostly Japan." 
Then later he says, he has been and gone and done it. In 
fifteen minutes he had the whole thing perfectly packed 
and labelled and addressed in various languages, dedicated 
to Mrs. Behrens, but entrusted largely to the gods. To 
save himself further trouble of mind, he told the pub- 
lishers just to do whatever they pleased about terms — and 
not to worry him concerning them. Then he felt like a 
man liberated from prison — smelling the perfumed air of a 
perfect spring day. 

In 1900 came ' ' Shadowings, " dedicated to Mitchell Mc- 
Donald. Some of the fantasies at the end are full of his 
peculiar ghostly ideas. A statement of his belief in 
previous existence occurs again and again: ''The splen- 
dour of the eyes that we worship belongs to them only as 
brightness to the morning star. It is a reflex from beyond 
the shadow of the Now, — a ghost light of vanished suns. 
Unknowingly within that maiden-face we meet the gaze of 
eyes more countless than the hosts of Heaven, — eyes other- 
where passed into darkness and dust. . . . Thus and 
only thus do truth and delusion mingle in the magic of 
eyes — the spectral past suffusing with charm ineffable the 
apparition of the present ; and the sudden splendour in the 
soul of the seer is but a flash, one soundless sheet lightning 
of the infinite memory. ' ' 

"Shado^dngs" was succeeded by a "Japanese Miscel- 
lany," dedicated to Mrs. Elizabeth Bisland Wetmore. 
Here there is no reference to "Auld Lang Syne,^' nor is 
there a touch of sentiment from beginning to end. The 
book is perhaps more intensely Japanese and fanciful than 
any yet written, and to occidental readers the least inter- 
esting. One of the sketches, inspired by his sojoumings in 
the village of Yaiduz, is a p^ean, as it were, sung to the 
sea. Another on "Dragon-Flies" is delightful because of 
its impressionist translations of Japanese poems. 



"Lonesomely clings the dragon-fly to the under side of the leaf. 
. . . Ah! the autumn rains ! " 

And a verse written by a mother, who, seeing children 
chasing butterflies, thinks of her little one who is dead: — 

"Catching dragon-flies! ... I wonder where he has gone 




"From the foot of the mountain, many are the paths ascending in 
shadow ; but from the cloudless summit all who climb behold the self- 
same Mx)on." — Buddhist poem trmislated by Lafcadio Hearn. 

It was on the 19th of March, 1902, that the Koizumi 
family removed from 21, Tomihasa-chio, Ichigaya, Ushi- 
gome, to 266, Nishi Okubo. 

Hearn had purchased the house out of his savings and 
settled it on his wife according to English law, as no 
woman can hold property in Japan. It is there that Mrs. 
Hearn now lives, sub-letting half of it to Captain Fujisaki 
— one of Hearn 's Matsue students, who has remained an 
intimate friend of his widow and children. Nishi Okubo 
is known as the Gardeners' Quarter, where the celebrated 
Tokyo azaleas are grown, and where a show of azaleas is 
held once a year. 

After he took possession, Hearn added on the library, 
or Buddha-room, as it is now called, and a guest-room, 
which was assigned to Mrs. Koizumi for her occupation. 

Had Hearn at this time managed his affairs with the 
least businesslike acumen, he might have enjoyed the com- 
fortable competency which his widow now receives from 
the royalties and sales of his books, which have most of 
them been translated into German, Swedish and French, 
and achieved a considerable circulation in England. 

There is little doubt he was lamentably wanting in the 
most rudimentary knowledge of practical business affairs, 
and was entirely to blame for the difficulties in which he 



so repeatedly found himself. "I have given up thinking 
about the business side of literature, and am quite content 
to obtain the privilege of having my books produced ac- 
cording to my notions of things," he writes to Mitchell 

On the day of his arrival in the new house, while, — as- 
sisted by his wife, — he was arranging his books in the 
shelves in the library, he suddenly heard an uguisu 
(nightingale) singing in the bamboo-grove outside. He 
stopped to listen, then *'How delightful!" he said to his 
wife, *'01i! how I hope I will live here for years until I 
have made enough for you and the children." 

During the last two years of his life he suffered a 
great deal from his eyes ; each month more powerful glasses 
had to be used; and he was obliged to stand writing at a 
high desk, his face almost touching the paper. Yet what 
a beautiful handwriting it is! almost as plain as copper- 
plate. Composition was easy for him, but the mechanical 
labour of setting down his thoughts became very irksome. 
Many were the kind offers of help that he received; Mr. 
Mason, for instance, proposed to do any necessary copjdng 
he wanted, but he was too irritable to do work in conjunc- 
tion with any one, and was never able to dictate success- 

The absence of intellectual communion with his own 
compatriots would have been a cruel test for most writers. 
His manuscript had to float round half a world before 
it met with sympathetic understanding. Surrounded by 
complete spiritual solitude, a voluntary outlaw from the 
practical thought of his time, the current of emotional 
and practical life which bore most of his contemporaries 
to affluence and popularity flowed entirely outside his men- 
tal boundary. Yet, is it not most probable that this aloof- 
ness and seclusion from the world invested his Tokyo work 
with its unique and original quality? "The isolation 



ought," he writes, ** unless you are physically tired by the 
day's work, — to prove of value. All the best work is done 
this way by tiny, tireless and regular additions, preserving 
in memory what you think and see. In a year you will be 
astounded to find them self-arranging, kaleidoscopically, 
into something symmetrical, — and trying to live. Then 
pray God, and breathe into their nostrils, — and be aston- 
ished and pleased." 

''You will remember," he says elsewhere, '*my philo- 
sophical theory that no two living beings have the same 
voice . . . and it is the uniqueness of each that has 
its value. ... I simply now try to do the best I can, 
without reference to nationalities or schools. ' ' 

Strangeness, we are told by the Romantic school, is es- 
sential for the highest beauty; it was a theory Hearn 
always maintained, but his strangeness now became spirit- 
ualised. Instead of the oddness of a Creole song, or a 
negro ''roustabout," it was the oddness of the ethics and 
religious superstitions of the genius of a remarkable peo- 

At this time Hearn had a recurrence of the emotional 
trances he had suffered from at various times in his life, 
a state of mental anaemia common to brain-workers of no 
great physical stamina. "He saw things," as his wife 
says, "that were not, and heard things that were not." 
Absence of mind was a peculiarity inherited with his 
Hearn inheritance. Sometimes, when called to supper, he 
would declare he had had it already, and continue writing 
instead of joining his family, or if he did join them, he 
would make all sorts of blunders, putting salt instead of 
sugar in his coffee, and eating sugar with his fish. When 
his brain thus went " argonauting, " as Ruskin expresses 
it, practical consistency was forgotten, even the sense of 
personal identity. He beheld ghostly apparitions in the 



surrounding air, he held communion with a multitude of 
supernatural visions, a procession stretching back out of 
life into the night of forgotten centuries. We can see him 
seated in his library, weaving his dreams while all the 
household slept, so absorbed in his work as to have for- 
gotten bedtime, the stillness only broken by the rapping 
of his little pipe against the hihachi, the intermittent 
scratch of his pen, and the rustle of the leaves as he threw 
them down, while the bronze figure of Buddha on his lotus- 
stand, stood behind with uplifted hand and enigmatic 

Richard Jefferies was wont to say that all his best work 
was done from memory. The * ' Pageant of Summer, ' ' with 
its vivid descriptions and realised visions of country mead- 
ows and hedgerows was written in his curtained sick-room 
at the seaside village of Goring. So Hearn in his house 
at Tolrv^o, his outlook bounded by the little plot of garden 
beneath his study window, recalled all he had seen and felt 
during his wanderings amongst the hills and by the sea- 
shore in distant parts of Japan. The laughter of streams 
and whisper of leaves, the azure of sky and sea ; the falling 
of the blossoms of the cherry-trees, the lilac spread of the 
myiaJtohana, the blazing yellow of the natale, the flooded 
levels of the lotus-fields, and the pure and tender green of 
the growing rice. Again he watched the flashing dragon- 
flies, the long grey sand-crickets, the shrilling semiy and 
the little red crabs astir under the roots of the pines ; again 
he heard the croaking of the frogs, that universal song of 
the land in Japan, the melody of the uguisu and the moan 
of the surf on the beach at Yaidzu. 

Hearn is principally known in England by his letters 
and essays on the social and political development of Ja- 
pan. Cultured people who have Charles Lamb, De Quin- 
cey, or Robert Louis Stevenson at their fingers' ends will 



open eyes of wonder if you venture to suggest that Hearn's 
incidental sketches represent some of the best work of the 
kind done by any of our English essayists. 

Fresh, spontaneous and unconventional, the whole of his 
genius seems suddenly poured forth in an impulse of 
sadness, pity or humour. After some grim Japanese 
legend, we are greeted by one of these dainty fancies when 
his acute sensibility, touched and awakened, concentrated 
itself on the trifle of a moment. With the mastery of 
words that he had attained after years of hard work, he 
was enabled to catch the evanescent inspiration, and set 
it down, preaching from the significance of small things 
an infinite philosophy. A dewdrop hanging to the lattice 
of his window; the sighing of the wind in the bamboo- 
grove, the moon rising above his garden fence, were all 
full of soul secrets, soul life. 

In a sketch entitled *'Moon Desire," for instance, he 
begins playfully, almost trivially, and ends with a fine 
burst of eloquence on the subject of human desire and 

'*He was two years old when — as ordained in the law of 
perpetual recurrence — ^he asked me for the Moon. 

'* Unwisely I protested: — 

'* *The Moon I cannot give you because it is too high 
up. I cannot reach it.' 

*'He answered: — 

** ^By taking a very long bamboo, you probably could 
reach it, and knock it down. ' 

^*. . . Whereat I found myself constrained to make 
some approximately truthful statements concerning the na- 
ture and position of the Moon. 

*'This set me to thinking. I thought about the strange 
fascination that brightness exerts upon living creatures in 
general, — upon insects and fishes and birds and mam- 
mals, — and tried to account for it by some inherited mem- 



ory of brightness as related to food, to water, and to free- 
dom. . . . 

* ' Have we any right to laugh at the child 's wish for the 
Moon ? No wish could be more natural ; and as for its in- 
congruity, — do not we, children of a larger growth, mostly 
nourish wishes quite as innocent, — longings that if realised 
could only work us woe, — such as desire for the contin- 
uance after death of that very sense-life, or individuality, 
which once deluded us all into wanting to play with the 
Moon, and often subsequently deluded us in far less pleas- 
ant ways? 

"No, foolish as may seem to merely empirical reason- 
ing, the wish of the child for the Moon, I have an idea that 
the highest wisdom commands us to wish for very much 
more than the Moon, — even for more than the Sun, and the 
Morning-Star, and all the Host of Heaven. ' ' 

He suffered much from depression of spirits towards 
the end, his wife tells us, and a Celtic tendency to vague 
and wistful dreaminess became more strongly developed, 
things full of unexplained meanings, supernatural, out- 
side the experience of all ages, filled his mind. He had 
been wont to talk of himself as *'A Voice" in past New 
York days. Now the sense of disembodiment, of having 
sloughed his mortal envelope and become ^' one" with every 
gloom of shadow and flicker of sun, one with the rapture 
of wind and sea — was his. The fact of his own existence 
was so strange and unrealisable that he seemed always 
touching the margin of life, meditating on higher condi 
tions than existence here below. 

* ' In the dead of the night ! So black, chill, and still, — 
that I touch myself to find out whether I have yet a body. 
. . . A clock strikes three ! I shall see the sun again ! 

*'Once again, at least. Possibly several thousand times. 
But there will come a night never to be broken by any 
dawn — . . . Doubt the reality of the substance . . . 



the faiths of men, the gods, — doubt right and wrong, 
friendship and love, the existence of beauty, the existence 
of horror ; — there will always remain one thing impossible 
to doubt, — one infinite blind black certainty. . . . And 
vain all human striving not to remember, not to think ; the 
Veil that old faiths wove, to hide the Void, has been rent 
for ever away; — the Sheol is naked before us, — and de- 
struction hath no covering. 

*'So surely as I believe that I exist, even so surely must 
I believe that I shall cease to exist — which is horror! 
. . . But— 

^^Must I believe that I really exist f . . .'* 

Out of this idea he weaves a chapter of thrilling possi- 
bilities, and ends, ^'I am awake, fully awake! . . . 
All that I am is all that I have been. Before the begin- 
nings of time I was ; — beyond the uttermost circling of the 
Eternities I shall endure. In myriad million forms I but 
^eem to pass: as form I am only Wave; as essence I am 
Sea. Sea without shore I am; — and Doubt and Fear are 
but duskings that fleet on the face of my depth. . . . 

*'Then a sparrow twittered from the roof; another re- 
sponded. Shapes of things began to define in a soft grey 
glimmering; — and the gloom slowly lightened. Murmurs 
of the city's wakening came to my ears and grew and mul- 
tiplied. And the dimness flushed. 

*'Then rose the beautiful and holy Sun, the mighty 
Quickener, the mighty Purifier, — symbol sublime of that 
infinite Life whose forces are also mine! . . .'' 

All his life Hearn had had a singular tenderness for 
animals. Mrs. Hearn describes his bringing his cats, dogs, 
and crickets with him when he moved from Ushigome to 
Nishi Okubo. The very mysteries of animal intelligence 
fascinated him, and, imbued as he was with ideas of pre- 
existence and the unity of all life, he raised them in imagi- 



nation almost to an equality with man. The dog that 
guarded his gate at night, the dog that was everybody's 
and nobody ^s, owned nowhere. 

* * It stays in the house of the foreigner, ' ' said the smith 's 
wife when the policeman asked who it belonged to. 
**Then the foreigner's name must be painted upon the 
dog." Accordingly, Hearn had his name painted on her 
back in big Japanese characters. But the neighbours did 
not think that she was sufficiently safeguarded by a single 
name. So the priest of Kobduera painted the name of the 
temple on her left side, in beautiful Chinese text; and 
the smith put the name of his shop on her right side ; and 
the vegetable-seller put on her breast the ideographs for 
''eight hundred" — which represent the customary abbrevi- 
ation of the word yaoya (vegetable-seller) — any yaoya be- 
ing supposed to sell eight hundred or more different things. 
Consequently she was a very curious-looking dog; but she 
was well protected by all that caligraphy. 

His wife observed him with bewilderment as he spread 
out a piece of newspaper on the matting, and fetching 
some ants out of a mound in the garden, watched them 
moving about the whole afternoon. How could the little 
woman guess that his busy brain was weaving the fine Es- 
say on ''Ants," published under the heading of "Insect 
Studies" in "Kwaidan"? 

*'The air — the delicious air! — is full of sweet resinous 
odours shed from the countless pine-boughs broken and 
strewn by the gale. In the neighbouring bamboo-grove I 
hear the flute-call of the bird that praises the Sutra of the 
Lotos; and the land is very still by reason of the South 
wind. Now the summer, long delayed, is truly with us: 
butterflies of queer Japanese colours are flickering about; 
semi are whizzing ; wasps are humming ; gnats are dancing 
in the sun ; and the ants are busy repairing their damaged 
habitations. . . . 



**. . . But those big black ants in my garden do not 
need any sympathy. They have weathered the storm in 
some unimaginable way, while great trees were being up- 
rooted, and houses blown to fragments, and roads washed 
out of existence. Yet, before the typhoon, they took no 
other visible precaution than to block up the gates of their 
subterranean town. And the spectacle of their triumphant 
toil to-day impels me to attempt an essay on Ants." 

After relating the whimsical story of a man, visited by a 
beautiful woman, who told him that she was acquainted 
with the language of ants, and as he had been good to 
those in his garden, promised to anoint his ears, so that 
if he stooped down and listened carefully to the ants' talk, 
he would hear of something to his advantage — 

** Sometimes, " says Hearn, ''the fairy of science touches 
my ears and eyes with her wand; and then, for a little 
time, I am able to hear things inaudible and perceive things 

After pages of minute description of the biology of 
ants, leading to a still larger significance concerning the 
relation of ethics to cosmic law, he thus ends his essay: — 

''Apparently the highest evolution will not be permitted 
to creatures capable of what human moral experience has 
in all eras condemned. 

"The greatest strength is the strength of unselfishness; 
and power supreme never will be accorded to cruelty or 
to lust. There may be no gods; but the forces that shape 
and dissolve all forms of being would seem to be much 
more exacting than gods. To prove a 'dramatic tendency' 
in the ways of the stars is not possible; but the cosmic 
process seems nevertheless to affirm the worth of every 
human system of ethics fundamentally opposed to human 
egoism. ' ' 

In "Exotics and Retrospectives" Hearn has written an 
Essay on "Insect Musicians" that reveals his erudite and 



minute care in the study of *' things Japanese." He 
describes the first beginning of the custom, of keeping 
musical insects, tracing it down from ancient Japanese 
records to a certain Chuzo who lived in the Kwansei era 
in 1789. From the time of this Chuzo began the custom 
of breeding insect musicians, and improving the quality 
of their song from generation to generation. Every de- 
tail of how they are kept in jars, or other earthen vessels 
half -filled with moistened clay and are supplied every day 
with fresh food is recounted. The essay ends : ' ' Does not 
the shrilling booth of the insect-seller at a night festival 
proclaim a popular and universal comprehension of things 
divined in the West only by our rarest poets; — the pleas- 
ure-pain of autumn's beauty, the weird sweetness of the 
voices of the night, the magical quickening of remembrance 
by echoes of forest and field? Surely we have something 
to learn from the people in whose mind the simple chant 
of a cricket can awaken whole fairy swarms of tender and 
delicate fancies. We may boast of being their masters 
in the mechanical, — their teachers of the artificial in ail 
its varieties of ugliness; — but in the knowledge of the 
natural, — in the feeling of the joy and beauty of earth, — 
they exceed us like the Greeks of old. Yet perhaps it will 
be only when our blind aggressive industrialism has wasted 
and sterilised their paradise, — substituting everywhere for 
beauty the utilitarian, the conventional, the vulgar, the 
utterly hideous, — that we shall begin with remorseful 
amazement to comprehend the charm of that which we 
destroyed. ' ' 

During his later days at Nishi Okubo he owned one of 
these ''insect musicians," a grass-lark or Kusa-Hihari. 
**The creature's cage was exactly two Japanese inches 
high and one inch and a half wide. He was so small that 
you had to look very carefully through the brown gauze 
sides of it in order to catch a glimpse of him. He was 



only a cricket about the size of an ordinary mosquito — 
with a pair of antennae much longer than his own body, 
and so fine that they could only be distinguished against 
the light. 

* ' He was worth in the market exactly twelve cents ; very 
much more than his weight in gold. Twelve cents for such 
a gnat-like thing! ... 

*'By day he slept or meditated, with a slice of egg-plant, 
or cucumber . . . and always at sunset the infinitesi- 
mal soul of him awaked. Then the room began to fill 
with a sound of delicate and indescribable sweetness, a thin, 
thin, silvery rippling and trilling, as of tiniest electric bells. 
As the darkness deepened the sound became sweeter, some- 
times swelling until the whole house seemed to vibrate 
with the elfish resonance. . . . 

*'Now this tiny song is a song of love, — vague love of 
the unseen and unknown. It is quite impossible that he 
should ever have seen or known in this present existence 
of his. Not even his ancestors for many generations back 
could have known anything of the night-life of the fields, 
or the amorous value of song. They were born of eggs 
hatched in a jar of clay, in the shop of some insect-mer- 
chant; and they dwelt thereafter only in cages. But he 
sings the song of his race as it was sung a myriad years 
ago, and as faultlessly as if he understood the exact sig- 
nificance of every note. Of course he did not learn the 
song. It is a song of organic memory, — deep, dim mem- 
ory of other quintillions of lives, when the ghost of him 
shrilled at night from the dewy grasses of the hills. Then 
that song brought him love,— and death. He has forgotten 
all about death; but he remembers the love. And there- 
fore he sings now — for the bride that will never come. 
. . . He cries to the dust of the past, — he calls to the 
silence and the gods for the return of time. . . . Hu- 
man loves do very mu'ch the same thing without knowing 



it. They call their illusion an Ideal, and their Ideal is, 
after all, a mere shadowing of race-experience, a phantom 
of organic memory. . . .'' Then he goes on in half- 
humorous, half-pathetic way, to tell how Hana, the un- 
sjrmpathetic Hana, the housemaid, when there was no more 
egg-plant, never thought of substituting a slice of onion 
or cucumber. So the fairy music stopped, and the still- 
ness was full of reproach, and the room cold in spite of 
the stove. And he reproved Hana . . . **but how ab- 
surd! ... I have made a good girl unhappy because 
of an insect half the size of a barley grain! ... I 
have felt so much in the hush of the night, the charm of 
the delicate voice, — telling of one minute existence de- 
pendent upon my will and selfish pleasure, as upon the 
favour of a god, — telling me also that the atom of ghost 
in the tiny cage, and the atom of ghost within myself, 
were forever but one and the same in the deeps of the 
vast of Being. . . . And then to think of the little 
creature hungering and thirsting, night after night, and 
day after day, while the thoughts of his guardian deity 
were turned to the weaving of dreams! . . . How 
bravely, nevertheless, he sank on to the very end, — an 
atrocious end, for he had eaten his own legs! . . . 
May the gods forgive us all, — especially Hana the house- 

**Yet, after all, to devour one's own legs for hunger is 
not the worst that can happen to a being cursed with the 
gift of song. There are human crickets who must eat their 
own hearts in order to sing.'* 

During the last few months of Heam's life, every gleam 
of eyesight, every heart-beat, all his nerve power were 
directed to one subject — ^the polishing of his twenty-two 
lectures incorporated later under the title "Japan, An At- 
tempt at Interpretation." This volume is, as it were, the 
crystallisation and summary of his fourteen years' resi- 



dence in the country, and, as one of his most eminent 
critics says, *'is a work which is a classic in science, a 
wonder of erudition, the product of long years of keenest 
observation, of marvellous comprehension." 

Though the *' Romance of the Milky Way'' was pub- 
lished later, these Rejected Addresses, as he whimsically 
termed them, were the last product of his industrious pen. 
A sudden and violent illness interrupted the work for a 
time, but as soon as it was possible he was at his desk 
again. "So hard a task was it," his wife tells us, "that 
on one occasion he said: 'This book will kill me, it is 
more than I can do to create so big a book in so short a 
time.' As, at the time, he had no teaching or lecturing 
at the university, he poured all his strength into his writ- 
ing at home." "When it was completed it seemed as if 
a load were lifted off him, and he looked forward eagerly 
to the sight of the new volume: a little before his death 
he said that he could hear in imagination the sound of the 
typewriter in America copying the pages for the press. 
The privilege, however, of seeing the book completed was 
not destined to be his. 

In no book of Hearn's are impartial judgment, insight 
and comprehensiveness displayed as clearly as in "Japan, 
an Interpretation." It is a challenge to those who say 
that his views of Japan were fallacious and unreliable, and 
that he was only capable of giving descriptions of scenery 
or retailing legends and superstitions. 



**. , . Are not we ourselves as lanterns launched upon a deeper 
and a dimmer sea, and ever separating farther and farther one from 
another as we drift to the inevitable dissolution? Soon the thought- 
light in each burns itself out: then the poor frames, and all that 
is left of their once fair colours, must melt forever into the colourless 
Void. ..." 

Ten years after his arrival in Japan the lode-star of 
Lafcadio Hearn's life and genius rose above the far eastern 
horizon, to cast her clear and serene radiance on the 
shadowed path that henceforth was but a descent towards 
the end. We conclude that * ' The Lady of a ]\Iyriad Souls ' ' 
had written an appreciative letter on the subject of his 
work, and his, dated January, 1900, was in answer to hers. 

The thread was taken up where it had been dropped, 
the old affection and friendship reopened, unchanged, un- 

Three subjects occupied Hearn's thoughts at this time 
to the exclusion of all others: a longing to get back to 
the West amongst his own people, his failing health, and 
anxiety for the future of his eldest boy — his Benjamin — 
in case of his death. Except perhaps a hint to McDonald, 
it is only to Mrs. Wetmore that he drew aside the veil, 
and showed how clearly he realised that his span of life 
was now but a short one. **The sound of the breakers 
ahead is in his ears," **the scythe is sharpening in sight." 
'*I have had one physical warning . . , my body no 
longer belongs to me, as the Japanese say." And again: 
*'At my time pf life, except in the case of stroQg men, 



there is a great loss of energy, the breaking np begins." 
With intense longing did his thoughts these days revert 
to the Western lands from which he had voluntarily ex- 
patriated himself. ''I have been so isolated that I must 
acknowledge the weakness of wishing to be amongst 
Englishmen again . . . with all their prejudices and 
conventions. ' ' 

The Race Problem ! one of the most perplexing on earth. 
A man thinks he has wholly and finally given up his 
country, sloughed off inherited civilisation, discarded 
former habits and cast of thought; but — such a stubborn 
thing is human nature — sooner or later, the oft-repeated 
cry of the wanderer, surrounded by alien hearts and alien 
faces, arises to that Power that made him what he is. 
**Give back the land where I was born, let me fight for 
what my own people fight for, let me love as they love, 
worship as they worship.*' 

At the time of Kazuo's birth Hearn had expressed a 
hope **that he might wear sandals and kimono, and be- 
come a good little Buddhist. ' ' This was during the period 
of his enthusiasm for "things Japanese.*' When he came 
to issue with the officials at Kumamoto, and later at 
Tokyo, a change was effected in his view, and he longed 
earnestly to make him an occidental — one of his own people. 

All the expansion of communion and understanding de- 
nied him in the life he had passed amongst those who 
viewed thiags from an entirely different standpoint, seemed 
centred on the boy. He hoped to educate him abroad, 
to make an Englishman of him, to put him into a pro- 
fession, either in the army or navy, so that he might serve 
the country his father had forsworn. In this desire 
Hearn reckoned without his host. By his action in nation- 
alising himself a Japanese, when he married Setsu 
Koizumi, his son is a Japanese, born in Japan under 
Japanese conditions, and unless he throws off all family ties 



and responsibilities, which, being the eldest son, are — 
according to communal law in Japan — considerable, he 
must submit to this inexorable destiny. In his father's 
adopted country the military or naval profession is closed 
to him, however, in consequence of his defective eyesight, 
and both would have been closed to him also in England. 

Mrs. Atkinson, anxious to carry out the wishes her half- 
brother had expressed in his letters, with regard to the 
future of his eldest son, made inquiries on the subject of 
various people at Tokyo. The same answer was given on 
every side. He is a Japanese, and must conform to the 
dictates of the Japanese authorities. They might permit 
him to go away for a year or so for study, but he must 
serve the country his father had adopted, in some capacity, 
or renounce his nationality. Meantime, the boy is re- 
ceiving a first-class education at the Waseda University; 
he is perfectly happy, and would be most reluctant to 
separate from his relations. As to his mother, it would 
break her heart if any idea of his leaving Tokyo was sug- 

In the spring of 1903 as Hearn had anticipated, he was 
forced out of the Imperial University, on the pretext that 
as a Japanese citizen he was not entitled to a foreign 
salary. The students, as we can see by Yone Noguchi's 
last book, made a strong protest in his favour, and he was 
offered a re-engagement, but at terms so devised that it 
was impossible for him to re-engage. He was also refused 
the money allowed to professors for a nine months* vaca- 
tion after a service of six years; yet he had served seven 
years. On this subject Hearn was very bitter. ''The long 
and the short of the matter is that after having worked 
during thirteen years for Japan, and sacrificed everything 
for Japan, I have been only driven out of the service and 
practically vanished from the country. For while the 
politico-religious combination that has engineered this mat- 



ter remains in unbroken power, I could not hold any posi- 
tion in any educational establishment here for even six 
months. ' ' 

In judging the controversy between Hearn and the 
authorities at this juncture, it is well to remember that 
Japan was struggling for existence. She was heavily in 
debt, having been deprived by the allied powers of her 
indemnity fron: China. She could not afford to be soft- 
hearted, and her own people, students, professors, every 
one official, were heroically at this time renouncing emolu- 
ment of any kind to help their country in her need. 
Hearn 's health precluded the possibility of his fulfilling 
the duties of his engagement, and the means at the dis- 
posal of the government did not permit of their taking 
into consideration the possible payment of a pension. It 
seems hard, perhaps, but the Japanese are a hard race, 
made of steel and iron, or they never could have accom- 
plished the overwhelming task that has been set them 
within the last ten years. At the time when the war with 
Russia was raging, and Hearn got his discharge, her re- 
sources were strained to the utmost, her own people were 
submitting to almost incredible privations, officials who had 
been receiving pay that it seemed almost impossible to 
live upon, accepting one-half the salary they had been 
accustomed to, and college professors not only existing on 
starvation rations, but managing to pay the expenses of 
junior students. It must also be remembered that national 
sentiment had been awakened, that the Japanese were re- 
verting to the ancient authority, and belief and foreign 
teaching was at a discount. All this, however, did not 
make it easier for Hearn; in spite of his admiration for 
Japanese gallantry he railed at Japanese officialism. To 
the listening soul of his friend beyond the ocean, thou- 
sands of miles away, he poured forth all his disillusion- 
ments, all his anxieties. To her he turned for advice and 



guidance, for ''did she not represent to his imagination 
all the Sibyls? and was not her wisdom as the worth of 
things precious from the uttermost coasts?*' He felt he 
must leave the Far East for a couple of years to school 
his little son in foreign languages. ''Whether I take him 
to England or America, I do not yet know ; but America is 
not very far from England. Two of the boys are all 
Japanese, — sturdy and not likely to cause anxiety, but 
the eldest, ' ' he says, ' ' is not very strong, and I must devote 
the rest of my life to looking after him. ' ' 

And she — his wise friend — knowing the limitations en- 
forced by Hearn's isolation and failing health, living as 
she did in the midst of that awful American life of com- 
petition and struggle, enjoined prudent action and patient 
w^aiting, for, after all, "no one can save him but himself.'* 

"Very true," was Hearn's answer — and well did he 
know, for had not he, the half -blind journalist, worked 
his way, unaided and alone, into the position of being one 
of the signal lights in the literature of the day ? "No one 
can save him but himself. ... I am, or have been, 
always afraid: the Future-Possible of Nightmare imme- 
diately glooms up, — and I flee, and bury myself in work. 
Absurd? . . . Kazuo is everything that a girl might 
be, that a man should not be, — except as to bodily strength. 
. . . I taught him to swim and make him practice gym- 
nastics every day; but the spirit of him is altogether too 
gentle, a being entirely innocent of evil — what chance for 
him in such a world as Japan ? Do you know that terribly 
pathetic poem of Robert Bridges': 'Pater Filio'?'* 

The following are the lines to which Hearn refers : — 

"Sense with keenest edge unused, 
Yet unsteel'd by scathing fire; 
Lovely feet as yet unbruised. 
On the ways of dark desire; 
Sweetest hope that lookest smiling 
O'er the wilderness defiling! 


"Why such beauty, to be blighted, 

By the swarm of foul destruction? 
Why such innocence delighted. 

When sin stalks to thy seduction? 
All the litanies e'er chanted. 
Shall not keep thy faith undaunted. 

"I have pray'd the Sainted Morning 
To unclasp her hands to hold thee; 

From resignful Eve's adorning 

Stol'n a robe of peace to enfold thee; 

With all charms of man's contriving 

Arm'd thee for thy lonely striving. 

**Me too once unthinking Nature, 

— ^Whence Love's timeless mockery took me, — 

Fashioned so divine a creature. 
Yes, and like a beast forsook me. 

I forgave, but tell the measure. 

Of her crime in thee, my treasure." 

It seems as if he were haunted by memories of his own 
thwarted childhood and shipwrecked youth. If possible 
he wished to guard and protect his Benjamin from the 
pitfalls that had beset his path, knowing that the same 
dangers might prevail in Kazuo's case as in his own, and 
that there might be no one to protect and guard him. 

A charming piece of prose, from which I give a few 
extracts, was found amongst Hearn's papers after his 
death. The manuscript, lent to me by Mrs. Atkinson, lies 
by my hand as I write; it is entitled "Fear.'* 

*'An old, old sea-wall, stretching between two bound- 
less levels, green and blue. Everything is steeped in white 
sun ; and I am standing on the wall. Along its broad and 
grass-grown top a boy is running towards me, — running 
in sandals of wood, — the sea-breeze blowing aside the long 
sleeves of his robe as he runs. . . . With what sudden 
incommunicable pang do I watch the gracious little figure 
leaping in the light. ... A delicate boy, with the 



blended charm of two races. . . . And how softly vivid 
all things under this milky radiance, — the smiling child- 
face with lips apart, — the twinkle of the light quick feet, 
— the shadows of grasses and of little stones ! . . . 

**But quickly as he runs, the child will come no nearer 
to me, — the slim brown hand will never cling to mine. 
For this light is the light of a Japanese sun that set long 
years ago. . . . Never, dearest! — never shall we meet, 
— not even when the stars are dead ! * ' 

By the exercise of a considerable amount of diplomacy 
Mrs. Wetmore succeeded at this time in inducing Jacob 
Gould Schurmann, president of Cornell University, to enter 
into an arrangement with Hearn for a series of lectures on 

As of old, she believed him capable of conquering Fate, 
in spite of the despotism of fact as exemplified in the loss 
of eyesight and broken health; she felt sure he could 
interest an American audience by the material he had to 
offer, and the scholarly way in which he knew how to 
utilise it. ^ 

His answer to the suggestion of the lectures is character- 
istic : — 

''0 fairy! what have you dared to say? I am quite 
sure that I do not know anything about Japanese art, or 
literature, or ethnology, or politics, or history. (You did 
not say 'politics' or 'history,' however, and that seems 
to be what is wanted.) But perhaps you know what 
I know better than I myself know, — or perhaps you can 
give me to eat a Fairy Apple of Knowledge. At present 
I have no acquaintance even with the Japanese language: 
I cannot read a Japanese newspaper: and I have learned 
only enough, even of the kana, to write a letter home. I 
cannot lie — to my Fairy; therefore it is essential that I 
make the following declaration: — " 

Then he repeats the statement made in the preface of 



*' Japan, an Interpretation/' For these lectures prepared 
with so much industry and care were destined ultimately 
to go to the making of that beautiful and lucid exposition 
of the history and thought of a great people. 

The world has to be grateful to President Schurmann 
for withdrawing from his contract, and cancelling the offer 
made to Hearn for the delivery of lectures at the university. 

The excuse that illness had broken out at Cornell was 
hardly a sufficient one. There is little doubt that un- 
favourable reports of Hearn 's state of health, and doubts 
as to the possibility of his being able to lecture in public, 
had drifted to Cornell, and the president, acting for the 
best interests of his university, did not feel justified in 
abiding by his proposals. 

With that extraordinary mental elasticity that charac- 
terised him all his life, Hearn made the best of the situa- 
tion, and set to work, polishing and repolishing his twenty- 
two lectures until they reached the high level of style that 
distinguishes ''Japan, an Interpretation." His courage 
was the mSre extraordinary as, filled with the idea that 
he was at last going to America, he had gone into every 
detail of meeting his friend. ' ' I would go straight to your 
Palace of Fairy before going elsewhere," he writes to 
Mrs. "Wetmore, "only to see you again — even for a moment 
— and to hear you speak in some one of the myriad voices 
would be such a memory for me, and you would let me 
'walk about gently touching things.' . . ." Then in 
another letter comes a sigh of regret, and as it were fare- 
well. "But your gifts, Faery Queen have faded away, 
even as in the Song . . . and I am also fading away." 

After the failure of his projected visit to America, a 
suggestion was made by the University of London that 
he should give a series of lectures there. But here was 
the "Ah-ness" of things. Had Hearn 's health permitted 
he would probably have been in England in 1905, where 



he would have been received with honour. The Japanese 
had fought Russia and beaten her. People became wildly 
enthusiastic about Japan: the libraries were besieged with 
inquiries for Hearn's books, — just at the eleventh hour, 
when he had become a name, he died ! 

All his life his dream had been to be independent, to 
be able to travel. Referring to a gentleman who was in 
Japan, he once said, ' ' I envy him his independence. Think 
of being able to live where one pleases, nobody's servant, 
— able to choose one's own studies and friends and 

The offer of an easy post was made to Hearn about 
this time as professor of English in the Waseda University 
founded by Count Okuma. He closed with it at once, 
thus putting an end to all negotiations with the University 
of London. 

His youngest child, Setsu-ko, was born this year, and all 
idea of leaving Japan was henceforth abandoned. 

In his last letter to Mrs. ^Yetmore, dated September, 
1904 — the month in which he died — ^he touches on the 
dedication he had made to her in his book, ''A Japanese 
Miscellany." To the last the same sympathy and under- 
standing reigned between them. Patiently she exhorted, 
comforted. Her wise counsel and advice soothed his torn 
nerves and aching heart to the end. So this affection, un- 
touched by the moth and rust of worldly intercourse, went 
down with him ^'into the dust of death." 

Slowly but surely the years with their chequered story 
were drawing to an end. The sum of endeavour was com- 
plete, the secrets Death had in its keeping were there for 
the solving of this ardent, industrious spirit. 

]Many accounts have been published of Hearn's last 
hours, too many some of his friends in Japan think. 
From all of them we glean the same impression — a calm 
heroic bearing towards the final mystery, a fine considera- 



tion for others, the thought of the future of his wife and 
children, triumphing over suffering and death. 

He always rose before six. *'0n the morning of the 26th 
of September, he was smoking in his library," his wife 
tells us. *'When I went in to say my morning greeting, 
* Ohayo gozaimasu, ' he seemed to be fallen in deep thought, 
then he said, ^It's verily strange.' I asked him what was 
strange, and he said, 'I dreamed an extraordinary dream 
last night, I made a long travel, but here I am now smoking 
in the library of our house at Nishi Okubo. Life and the 
world are strange. * 

^' 'Was it in the Western country?' I asked again. *0h, 
no, it was neither in the Western country nor Japan, but 
the strangest land, ' he said. ' ' 

While writing, Hearn had a habit of breaking off sud- 
denly and walking up and down the library or along the 
verandah facing the garden. The day he died he stopped 
and looked into his wife's room next the library. In her 
tokonoma she had just hung up a Japanese painting repre- 
senting a moonlight scene. "Oh, what a lovely picture," 
he exclaimed. ''I wish I could go in my dreams to such 
a country as that." Sad to think he had passed into the 
country of dreams and moonlight before the next twelve 
hours were over ! 

Two or three days before his death one of the girls 
called Saki, the daughter of Otokichi, of Yaidzu, found 
a cherry-blossom on a cherry-tree in the garden, — not 
much to look at — but it was a blossom blooming out of 
season, in the direction of his library ; she told her fellow- 
servant Hana, who in turn repeated it to Mrs. Koizumi. 

"I could not help telling him; he came out of the library 
and gazed at it for some moments, 'The flower must have 
been thinking that Spring is here for the weather is so 
warm and lovely. It is strange and beautiful, but will 
soon die under the approaching cold. ' 




**You may call it superstition if you will, but I cannot 
help thinking that the Kaerizaki, or bloom, returned out 
of season, appeared to bid farewell to Hearn as it was his 
beloved tree. . . ." 

In a letter written to Mrs. Atkinson, some months after 
Lafcadio's death, Mrs. Koizumi, thus describes his last 
hours : ' ' On the evening of September 26th, after supper, 
he conversed with us pleasantly, and as he was about going 
to his room, a sudden aching attacked his heart. The pain 
lasted only some twenty minutes. After walking to and 
fro, he wanted to lie down; with his hands on his breast 
he lay very calm in bed, but in a few minutes after, as if 
feeling no pain at all, with a little smile about his mouth, 
he ceased to be a man of this side of the world. I could 
not believe that he died, so sudden was his fate. ' ' 




"If these tendencies which make individuals and races belong, as 
they seem to do, to the life of the Cosmos, what strange possibilities 
are in order. Every life must have its eternal records in the Uni- 
versal life, — every thought of good or ill or aspiration, — and the 
Buddhistic Karma would be a scientific, not a theoretical doctrine; 
all about us the thoughts of the dead, and the life of countless dead 
worlds would be forever acting invisibly on us." 

Perhaps of all the incongruous, paradoxical incidents 
connected with Lafcadio Hearn's memory, none is more 
incongruous or paradoxical than his funeral. 

It is believed by many that Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio 
Hearn) died a Buddhist, though he himself explicitly de- 
clared that he subscribed to no religious formula, and 
detestdti all ecclesiasticism. When he faced the last great 
problem, as we see by his essay entitled "Ultimate Ques-. 
tions ' ' in the volume published after his death, his thoughts 
soared beyond any boundary line or limitation, set by 
dogmatists or theologians; all fanciful ideas of Nir- 
vana, or Metempsychosis or ancestor worship, were swept 
away, he was but an entity freed from superstitious 
and religious palliatives, facing the awful idea of infinite 

Yet — Nemesis of his own instability, revealing also how 
absolutely alien to his sphere of thought were the sur- 
roundings in which he had spent his latter years — at his 
death his body was taken possession of by priests, who pre- 
pared it for burial, sat beside it until the obsequies were 
over, and conducted the burial service with every fantastic 



accomplishment of Buddhist ceremonial, in a Buddhist 
temple ! 

A detailed account is given of the funeral by an 
American lady, I\Iiss Margaret Emerson. She arrived in 
Japan imbued with an intense admiration for Hearn's 
writings; and made every endeavour to meet him or hear 
him lecture, when one morning she saw his death an- 
nounced in a Yokohama paper, accompanied by a brief 
notice stating that the funeral procession would start from 
his residence, 266, Nishi Okubo, at half-past one on Sep- 
tember 29th, and would proceed to the Jitom Kobduera 
Temple in Ichigaya, where the Buddhist service was to be 

It was one of those luminous Japanese days that had 
so often inspired the little artist's pen. Not even the 
filament of a cloud veiled the pale azure of the sky. Only 
the solitary cone of Fuji-yama stood out, a *' ghostly ap- 
parition" between land and sea. Everywhere was life, 
and hope, and joy ; the air full of the voices and laughter 
of little children, flying kites or playing with their balls, 
amidst a flutter of shadows and flicker of sunrays, as the 
tawdry procession filed out under the relentless light of the 
afternoon sun. 

He, whose idea it would have been to slip out of life 
unheralded and unnoticed was carried to his last resting- 
place preceded by a priest ringing a bell, men carrying 
poles, from which hung streamers of paper gohei; others 
bearing lanterns and others again wreaths, and huge 
bouquets of asters and chrysanthemums, while two boys 
in rickshas carried little cages containing birds that were 
to be released on the grave, symbols of the soul released 
from its earthly prison. Borne, palanquin-wise, upon the 
shoulders of six men, of the caste whose office it is to dig 
graves and assist at funerals, was the coffin, containing 
what had been the earthly envelope of that marvellous com- 



bination of good and evil tendencies, the soul of Lafcadio 

While the temple bell tolled with muffled beat, the pro- 
cession filed into the old Temple of Jitom Kobduera. The 
mourners divided into two groups, Hearn 's wife, who, 
robed in white, had followed with her little daughter in 
a ricksha, entering by the left wing of the temple, while 
the male chief mourners, consisting of Kazuo, Lafcadio 's 
eldest son, Tanabe (one of his former students at Matsue), 
and several university professors, went to the right. 

Then followed all the elaborate ceremonial of the 
Buddhist burial service. The eight Buddhist priests 
dressed in magnificent vestments chanted the chant of the 
Chapter of Kwannon in the Hokkekyo. 

After the addresses to the soul of the dead, the chief 
mourner rose and led forward Hearn 's eldest son; to- 
gether they knelt before the hearse, touching their fore- 
heads to the ground, and placed some grains of incense 
upon the little brazier burning between the candles. The 
wife, when they had retired, stepped forward, leading a 
little boy of seven, in a sailor suit with brass buttons and 
white braid. She also unwrapped some grains of incense 
from some tissue paper, and placed them upon the brazier. 
Then, after a considerable amount of bowing and chant- 
ing, the ceremony ended and the congregation left the 

Outside it was intimated to the assembled congregation 
that the body would be taken next day to the Zoshigaya 
Temple for the final rites of cremation in the presence of 
the family. Then the university students were dismissed 
by the professors with a few words, and the ceremony of 
the day was at an end. 




"Every dwelling in which a thinker lives certainly acquires a sort 
of soul. There are Lares and Penates more subtle than those of the 
antique world; these make the peace and rest of a home." 

On the 16th March, 1909, early in the morning, Mrs. 
Atkinson, Miss Atkinson and myself, left Kobe, reaching 
Yokohama late in the evening. Mrs. Atkinson, who had 
written from Kobe to her half -sister-in-law, announcing 
our arrival in Japan, expected to find a letter from 
Nishi Okubo awaiting us at the Grand Hotel. She had not 
made allowance for the red tape — the bales of red tape 
— that surround social as well as official transactions in 

Before we left Kobe, Mr. Robert Young had given us 
a letter of introduction to Mr. W. B. Mason, Professor 
Basil Hall Chamberlain's coadjutor in the editing of Mur- 
ray's ''Handbook to Japan," late of the Imperial Depart- 
ment of Communications, also custodian of the Club library 
at Yokohama, and a person, we were told, to whom every- 
one had recourse in a difficulty. He cast sidelights on 
the probable reasons for delay in the answer to Mrs. At- 
kinson's letter. 

To begin with, Tokyo covers an area of one hundred 
square miles, and, though ostensibly modelled on English 
lines, the Japanese postal system leaves much to be de- 
sired, especially in dealing with English letters; in finding 
fault on this score, I wonder what a London postman 
would do with letters addressed in Japanese? Mr. Mason 



also reminded us that Mrs. Koizumi did not understand 
a word of English; she must have recourse to an inter- 
preter before communicating with her Irish sister-in-law, 
but, above all, in accounting for delay, Mrs. Atkinson had 
addressed her letter to "Mrs. Lafcadio Hearn," a name 
by which no properly constituted Japanese postman would 
find himself justified in recognising Hearn 's widow. By 
nationalising himself a Japanese, Hearn 's identity, so far 
as his occidental inheritance went, had vanished forever. 
He and his wife were only known at Tokyo as Mr. and Mrs. 

Mr. Mason, like many others whom we met, was full 
of anecdotes about Lafcadio, his oddities, his caprices. In 
days gone by he had been extremely intimate with him, 
but Hearn had put a sudden end to the friendship ; Mr. 
Mason never knew exactly why, but imagined it was in 
consequence of his neglecting to take off his footgear and 
put on sandals one day before entering Hearn 's house. 
In passing judgment on Hearn for these sudden ruptures 
with friends, because of their lapses from the punctilio 
of Japanese tradition, it is well to remember that his wife 
came of the ancient Izumo stock, and was educated accord- 
ing to Japanese rules; a dusty or muddy boot placed on 
her cream-white tatami was almost an indignity. Hearn 
deeply resented any slight shown to her, and, from the 
moment he married, observed all old habits and customs, 
and insisted on his visitors doing the same. 

The expression in Japan for an unceremonious or bad- 
mannered person is "another than expected person"; the 
definition is delightfully Japanese; it explains the tradi- 
tions of the race: no one ever does anything unexpected 
— all is arranged by rule and order ; in any other civilised 
country, considering the circumstances, Mrs. Atkinson 
would have taken a Tokaido train to Tokyo, and from the 
Shimbasi station gone immediately in a jinrikisha to see 


Kazuo (Hearn's Son, Aged about Seventeen). 


her sister-in-law; the two ladies would have fallen into 
one another's arms, and a close intimacy would have been 
begun. Not so in Japan. 

''Patience is a virtue inculcated by life in the Far 
East," said Mr. Mason. "Come out with me, I will show 
you some of the most beautiful sights in the world, and 
in course of time either Mrs. Koizumi or a letter will turn 

Anxious not to offend the little Japanese lady by any 
proceeding not in consonance with the social etiquette of 
her country, we took Mr. Mason's advice. 

I had been reading ''Out of the East," and pleaded that 
out first pilgrimage might be to the Jizo-Do Temple, scene 
of Lafcadio Hearn 's interview with the old Buddhist priest. 

Up a hill above Yokohama w^e climbed, until we reached 
the summit, where, embosomed in fairy-like clouds of plum- 
tree blossom, a carpet of pink-and-white petals round its 
august feet, stood an ancient shrine. 

From the platform in front of the great bronze bell, 
hanging in a pagoda-like tower, we looked out over the 
city of Yokohama. Again I experienced what I had felt 
coming up the Inland Sea, an impression, common to 
almost every one who visits Japan, that I was gazing on 
a dream world, lying outside everyday experience, a world 
"having a special sun and tinted atmosphere of its own," 
arched by a sky of magic light, the very sky of Buddha. 
Down the hillside a cascade of clustering eaves and quaint 
curved tiled roofs, surrounded by gardens, descended to 
the very edge of the sapphire sea. Behind, in the distance, 
rose a range of dark-blue hills, and enormously above the 
line of them all, through the vapoury mist, gleamed one 
solitary snow-capped cone; we knew its familiar outline 
on Japanese fans and screens, in Japanese picture-books 
— the sacred, the matchless mountain — Fuji-no-yama. 

There, in the stillness of the Japanese afternoon, we sum- 



moned from out the twenty years that had elapsed since 
Hearn's visit, a vision of the old priest, seated, brush in 
hand, writing one of the three hundred volumes of the 
history of the religions of Japan, of the interpreter Akira, 
and of the little Celtic dreamer seated Buddha-wise be- 
tween them, while, mingled with the sound of the purring 
of the cat, and the song of the uguisu from the plum-tree 
grove, we heard the murmur of their voices. 

"That which we are, in the consequence of that which 
we have been. . . . Every act contains both merit 
and demerit, just as even the best painting has defects and 
excellence. But when the sum of good in any action ex- 
ceeds the sum of evil, just as in a good painting the merits 
outweigh the faults, then the result is progress. And 
gradually by such progress will all evil be eliminated. 
. . . They who by self-mastery reach such conditions 
of temporary happiness, have gained spiritual force also, 
and some knowledge of truth. Their strength to conquer 
themselves increases more and more with every triumph, 
until they reach at last that world of Apparitional Birth, 
in which the lower forms of temptation have no existence.'* 

"Wisely had Mr. Mason counselled patience. The next 
afternoon, while seated at tea-time in the hall of the Grand 
Hotel, we saw two figures pass through the swing door at 
the entrance . . . one was a Japanese lady, dressed 
in the national Japanese costume — a kimono of dark iron- 
grey silk — the other, a tall, slim, near-sighted youth of 
seventeen dressed also in kimono, wearing a peaked col- 
legiate cloth cap and sandals on his feet. The pair hesi- 
tated at the doorway, and after questioning one of the 
hotel clerks, came towards us under his guidance. 

Mrs. Atkinson realised at once that this was her Japanese 
half-sister-in-law. The nearest relations never embrace 
in Japan, but the two ladies saluted one another with pro- 
found bows and smiles. 



Mrs. Koizumi could never have been, even according to 
Japanese ideas, good-looking; it was difficult to reconcile 
this subdued, sad-faced, Quaker-like person with Hearn's 
description written to EUwood Hendrik, of the little lady 
whom he dressed up like a queen, and who nourished 
dreams of ''beautiful things to be bought for the adorn- 
ment of her person." But the face had a pleasing ex- 
pression of gentle, sensible honesty. Had it not been for 
the arched eyebrows, oblique eyes and elaborate coiffure 
— the usual erection worn by her country-women — she 
might have been a dignified, well-mannered housekeeper 
in a large English establishment. 

The only exception to the strict nationality of her cos- 
tume was a shabby, carelessly-folded, American silk um- 
brella that she carried, instead of the dainty contrivance 
of oil paper and bamboo so generally used and so typical 
of Japan. There was something vaguely and indefinably 
suggestive, like the revival of a sensation, a shado\^dng of 
memory, blended in the associations of that umbrella; we 
felt certain it had been used by her ''August One" in his 
*' honourable " journeyings to and from the Imperial Uni- 

After having placed this precious possession, with care- 
ful precision, leaning against a chair, she turned to in- 
troduce her son to his aunt. He was already bowing pro- 
foundly over Dorothy Atkinson's hand in the background. 

At first the lad had given the impression of being a 
Japanese, but as he laughed and talked with his beautiful 
cousin, you recognised another race; no child of Nippon 
was this, the fairy folk had stolen a Celtic changeling and 
put him into their garb; but he was not one of them, he 
was an Irishman and a Hearn, bearing a striking resem- 
blance to Carleton Atkinson, Dorothy's brother. The 
same gentle manner, soft voice, and near-sighted eyes, 
obliging the wearing of strong glasses. I remembered his 



father's words: ''The eldest is almost of another race, 
with brown hair and eyes of the fairy colour, and a 
tendency to pronounce with a queer little Irish accent the 
words of old English poems which he has to learn by 

Then, as the thought passed through one's mind of his 
extraordinary likeness to his Irish relations, an impassive, 
Buddha-like, Japanese expression — a mask of reserve as it 
were — fell like a curtain over his face, — ^he was Japanese 

He spoke English slowly and haltingly; to me it was 
incomprehensible; his cousin, on the contrary, seemed to 
understand every word, as if a sort of freemasonry existed 
between them. There was something pathetic in watching 
his earnest endeavours to make his occidental relative 
understand what he wished to say. 

It is a myth that Mrs. Koizumi talks English; her 
''Reminiscences" have been taken down and translated by 
interpreters; principally by the Japanese poet Yone 
Noguchi. If she ever knew any, it has been entirely for- 
gotten. Indeed, had it not been for the intervention of 
Mr. Mason, who is a first-rate Japanese scholar, we should 
have found ourselves considerably embarrassed. One 
thing, however, she certainly possessed — that most desirable 
thing in woman, to which her husband had been so sensi- 
tive — a soft and musical voice. 

Mrs. Atkinson had brought some gifts for the four chil- 
dren from England, and an old-fashioned gold locket, which 
had belonged to Lafcadio's father, for her sister-in-law. 
She tried playfully to pass the chain round Mrs. Koizumi's 
neck, but the little lady crossed her hands on her bosom 
and declined persistently to allow her to do so. Mr. 
Mason then told us that it was against all the rules of 
decorum for a Japanese woman to wear any article of 


Cakleton Atkinson. 


Towards the end of her visit, which lasted an intermi- 
nable time — Japanese visits usually do — Mrs. Koizumi 
gave us an invitation for the following Sunday to come 
to dinner at 266, Nishi Okubo, and promised that her son 
Kazuo should come to fetch us. Needless to say, this 
invitation was the acme of our hopes ; we accepted eagerly, 
and, to save Kazuo the trouble of coming to Yokohama, 
we determined to flit the next day, Saturday, from Yoko- 
hama to Tokyo. 

The Metropole, or, as Hearn dubbed it, *'The Palace 
of Woe, ' ' was the hotel we selected. Our dinner that night 
was eaten in the room where Professor Foxwell, in his 
delightful ''Reminiscences of Lafcadio Hearn," describes 
him leaping from the table, darting to the window, and 
making for the garden, on catching sight of a young lady 
tourist, a friend of Professor Foxwell 's, at the farther end 
of the room. 

Next morning, as arranged, Kazuo Koizumi arrived to 
escort us to Nishi Okubo. That particular Sunday was 
the anniversary of the Festival of the Spring Equinox 
{Shiinki Eorei-sai). There is an autumn and a spring 
equinox festival when days and nights are equal. The 
pullulating population of Tokyo seemed to have emptied 
itself, like a rabbit warren, into the streets. The ladies 
were in their best kimonos, their hair elaborately dressed, 
set round with pins, and the men, some of them bare- 
headed, Japanese fashion, in Japanese garb, others wearing 
bowler hats, others again dressed in ill-fitting American 
clothes, carrying American umbrellas. These umbrellas, 
I think, are one of the features that you resent most in 
the occidentalising of the Japanese man and woman. A 
pretty musume's ivory-coloured oval face against the 
cream-colour background of an oiled-paper Japanese um- 
brella, makes a delightful picture, and nothing can be 
imagined more fantastically .picturesque than a Tok>^o 



street in brilliant sunshine, or under a flurry of rain when 
hundreds of these ineffective shelters with their quaint 
designs of chrysanthemums, cherry-blossom, or wisteria, 
are suddenly opened. Alas! in ten years' time, like many 
other quaint and beautiful Japanese productions, these 
oil-paper umbrellas will have passed away into the region 
of faintly-remembered things. 

The gentle decorous politeness of the crowd was remarka- 
ble. If any of the men had a little too much sake on 
board, their tipsiness was only betrayed by their aimlessly 
happy, smiling expression. Sometimes, indeed, it could 
only be guessed at by the gentle sway of a couple walking 
arm-in-arm down the street. In the luke-warm air was a 
mingling of odours peculiar to Japan, smells of sake, 
smells of seaweed soup, smells of daikon (the strong native 
radish), and, dominating all, a sweet, thick, heavy scent 
of incense that floated out from the shadows behind the 
temple doors, while above all was a speckless azure sky 
arching this fantastical world. The city lay glorified in a 
joy of sunshine. 

Kazuo Koizumi had told us that it was only a short 
walk to the trams, and that by them we could get close 
to Nishi Okubo. It seemed to us an interminable journey 
as we followed the tall, slim figure over bridges, down miles 
of paved streets, and at last, when we did reach the 
trams, we found them full to overflowing, not only with 
men and women, but with babies, babies tumbling, rolling, 
laughing on the floor, on their mothers* laps, on their 
mothers' backs; there was certainly no doubt of Japan 
having that most valuable asset to a fighting country, male 
children, and that most necessary adjunct, female children ; 
nowhere was there an ill-fed, ill-cared for one to be seen. 

Finding the trams impossible, we induced Kazuo to hail 
jinrikishas, and still on and on for miles, behind our fleet- 
footed kuruma men, did our journey last, through the 



quarter of the foreign legations, past government offices 
and military stations, beside the moat surrounding the 
mikado's palace, with its grass slopes and pine-clad fosse, 
down declivities and up others, through endless lanes, 
bordered by one-storeyed houses standing in shrubberies 
behind bamboo fences. At last Kazuo Koizumi, whose 
kuruma led the way, halted before a small gateway, sur- 
mounted by a lamp in an iron stand, stamped, as we un- 
derstood afterwards, with Hearn's monogram in Japanese 
ideographs. Passing through, we found ourselves oppo- 
site the entrance of a lightly-built two-story house, rather 
resembling a suburban bungalow in England. Directly 
we entered we were transported into a different era. Here 
no modern Japan was visible. On the threshold, waiting 
to receive us, was an ^'august residence maid," kneeling, 
palms extended on the floor. I glanced at the ebon head 
touching the matting, and wondered if it belonged to 
Hana, the unsympathetic Hana who had let the grass-lark 
die. Beside her was Setsu-ko, Hearn's youngest child, in 
a brilliantly-coloured kimono, w^hile on the step above 
stood Professor Tanabe, who had been one of Hearn's 
pupils at Matsue, now an intimate friend of the Koizumi 
family, living near by, and acting occasionally as inter- 
preter for Mrs. Hearn. What a picture — as an eastern 
philosopher, for instance — he would have made for Moroni 
or Velasquez, with the delicate grey and cream background 
of the Japanese tat ami and paper slioji. He had the clear 
olive complexion and intellectually-spiritualised expression, 
result of the discipline and thought enjoined by his far 
eastern religion. He looked tall as he stood above us, the 
close folds of his black silk college gown descending to his 
feet. "With all the courtesy and dignity of a Spanish 
Hidalgo did he receive us, holding out a slim, delicately- 
modelled hand, and bidding us welcome in our native 
tongue, in a voice harmonious and clear as one of his 



own temple bells. To take off our foot-gear in so dignified 
a presence, and put on the rice sandals offered ns by the 
maid, \v£s trjdng; for the little girl had raised her fore- 
head from the matting, and, with hands on knees, with 
many bows, had first of all surveyed us sideways like a 
bird, and then, gently approaching with deferential liftings 
of the eyes and deprecating bows, she took a pair of sandals 
from a row that stood close by, helped us to take off our 
boots and put on the sandals. We then remarked that 
she was not at all unsympathetic-looking, but a nice, 
chubby, rosy-faced handmaiden. We hoped devoutly we 
had no holes in our stockings, and after a considerable 
amount of awkward fumbling, got through the ordeal in 
time to curtsey and bow to ]\Irs. Koizumi, who appeared 
beside Professor Tanabe on the step above us, softly invit- 
ing us to * ' honourably deign to enter her unworthy abode. ' ' 

The best rooms in a Japanese house are ahvays to the 
rear, and so arranged as to overlook the garden. We 
followed our hostess to the engaioa (verandah) leading to 
the guest-room next to what had been Hearn's study. The 
fusima or paper screens separating the two rooms were 
pushed back in their grooves, we passed through the open- 
ing and stood within what they called the ''Buddha- 
room." At first I thought it was so named because of a 
bronze figure of Buddha, standing on a lotus flower, with 
hand upraised in exhortation, on the top of the bookcase, 
but afterwards ascertained that it was because of the 
Butsudan, or family shrine, that occupied an alcove in the 

Every one after death is supposed to become a Buddha ; 
this was the spirit chamber where the memory of the august 
dead was worshipped. 

At last I stood where ate, slept, thought and wrote (for 
bedroom and sitting-room are identical in Japan) the 
author of ''Kokoro," ''Japan, an Interpretation," and so 



many other wonderful books, and I felt as I looked at 
that room of Lafcadio Hearn's that the dead were more 
alive than the quick. The walls — or rather the paper 
panels and wood laths that did duty for walls — were 
haunted with memories. 

I pictured the odd little figure — dressed in the kimono 
given him by Otani embroidered in characters of letters 
or poems — "Surely just the kind of texture which a man 
of letters ought to wear!" — with the prominent eyes, in- 
tellectual brow, and sensitive mouth, squatting "in the an- 
cient, patient manner" on his zabuton — smoking his 
kiseru, or standing at the high desk, his nose close to the 
paper, covering sheets and sheets with his delicate hand- 
writing, every now and then turning over the leaves of 
the quarto, calf -bound, American edition of Webster's 
Dictionary that stood on a stand next his desk. 

There was an atmosphere of daintiness, of refined clean 
manners, of a sense of beauty and purity in the room; 
with its stillness, almost eerie stillness, offering an ar- 
resting contrast to the multitudinous rush and clamour of 
the city outside — it gave an impression of restfulness, of 
calm, almost of regeneration, with its cool, colourless, stain- 
less matting and delicate grey walls, lighted by the clear 
light of the Japanese day that fell beneath the verandah 
through the window panels that, like the fusima, ran in 
grooves on the garden side of the room. I understood from 
Mrs. Koizumi that when Hearn had added on the study 
and guest-room to the existing house, glass had been sub- 
stituted for paper in these window panels. He, who had 
so devoutly hoped years before that glass would never 
replace paper in the window panels of Japanese houses! 
Not only that, but an American stove, with a stove pipe, 
had occupied the corner where now stands the Biitsiidan, 
contaminating that wonderful Japanese atmosphere he 
had raved about, that "translucent, crystalline atmos- 



phere" unsullied by the faintest breath of coal smoke. 
These hardy folk told us that they were always catching 
coughs and colds when they had the stove and glass win- 
dows, so they took both out, and put back the paper shoji 
and the charcoal brazier. 

It was illuminating indeed to see many western innova- 
tions against which Hearn had railed in his earlier days 
in Japan, in various parts of his study. The andon — 
tallow-candle — stuck in a paper shade — national means of 
lighting a room — ^had apparently been discarded, and a 
Queen's reading lamp stood in all its electro-plated hide- 
ousness on a little table in the corner. On another was an 
electric bell with india-rubber tube. 

Japanese rooms are never encumbered by ornament, a 
single kakemono, or piece of fine lacquer or china appear- 
ing for a few days, and then making room for something 
else ; but here, the oriental and occidental thought and life 
— that Hearn blended so deftly in his work — joined hands. 
Round the room at the height of about four feet from the 
floor, bookcases were placed, filled with books, English 
most of them — De Quincey, Herbert Spencer, Barrie, were 
a few of the names I caught a glimpse of; against the 
laths separating the household shrine from the shelves 
near the Butsudan rested volumes of Browning and 

I wondered where the many things that Hearn must 
have collected, the old prints, and bronzes, and enamelled 
ware, he so often alluded to, had been put away. Above 
all, where was the photograph of the ^'Lady of a Myriad 
Souls," and the one of Mitchell McDonald that he men- 
tioned as hanging on the ceiling ? 

It is customary in Tokyo, we were told afterwards, to 
warehouse in a depository or ''go-down'* (a name derived 
from the Malay godong given to the fire-proof storehouses 
in the open ports of the Far East) all valuable and artistic 



objects; the idyllic innocence of Tokyo is a thing of the 
past ; thieving is rife ; it is well also to protect them from 
fire, earthquakes and floods. 

Above the bookcases all was thoroughly Japanese in 
character; the ceiling mostly composed of unpainted wood 
laths, traversing a delicate grey ground. 

On the wall opposite the guest-room hung a hahemono 
or scroll-picture representing a river running quickly 
between rocks. ''The water runs clear from the heights," 
was the translation given to us of the Japanese ideographs 
in the corner — by Professor Tanabe. It had been a present 
from Kazuo to his father. 

Two of the younger children now appeared, the third 
boy Iwayo, we heard, w^as away, visiting some of the ships 
in the harbour; the two we saw were Idaho, the second 
son, and Setsu-ko, the little girl. 

Presently, I don't quite know how, it was intimated that 
the dinner-hour had arrived, and I must confess that the 
announcement was a welcome one. Owing to our wan- 
derings in the Tokyo streets, and the lateness of the hour, 
our "honourable insides'* were beginning to clamour for 
sustenance of some sort. 

Japanese dinners have been described so often that it 
is unnecessary to go into all the details of the one of which 
we partook at Nishi Okubo that Sunday afternoon. It 
was served in the guest-room next Hearn's study, and 
lasted well over an hour. To me it was exasperating be- 
yond measure. My impression is that the Japanese delight 
in discomfort. They own a country in which any one 
could be happy. A climate very much like our own, with 
a dash of warmth and more sunshine than we can boast, 
a climate where anything grows and flourishes and an at- 
mosphere clear as crystal; instead of enjoying it and ex- 
panding to the delightful circumstances surrounding them, 
they set to work to make themselves uncomfortable in what 



seemed to me sucli an irritating and futile way. That 
any sane people should eat a succession of horrible con- 
coctions made up of raw fish, lotus roots, bamboo shoots, 
and sweets that tasted of Pears' soap, whisked into a lather, 
with a little sugar added as an afterthought, eaten Japa- 
nese fashion, was worse than the judgment passed on 
Nebuchadnezzar, and with the beasts of the field Nebu- 
chadnezzar, at least, had no appearances to keep up, whereas 
we had to respond to a courtesy that was agonising in the 
exquisiteness of its delicacy. 

The very dainty manner in which it was all served, in 
small porcelain dishes, on lacquer trays, with little paper 
napkins, the size of postage stamps tied with gold cord, 
seemed to emphasise the utter inadequacy of the food. Th§ 
use of chop-sticks, too, was not one of the least of our trials, 
especially as we were told that if we broke one of the spili- 
kins it was an omen of death. 

I really must say that I sympathised with the youth of 
modern Japan when I heard that most of them sit on chairs 
at their meals and now use knives and forks like ordinary 
people. Mrs. Koizumi, indeed, told us a story of one of 
Hearn's Tokyo pupils, who, on making a call on the pro- 
fessor, found him seated orthodox Japanese fashion with 
his feet under him. The visitor, accepting the cushion and 
pipe offered him, could not refuse to follow suit. Soon, 
however, he found his position intolerable. Hearn smiled. 
''All the new young men of Japan are growing into the 
western style, ' ' he said, ' ' I do not blame you, please stretch 
your legs and be comfortable." 

After dinner we returned again to the study. A wintry 
sunlight fell athwart the garden, a regular Japanese gar- 
den; to the left was a bamboo-grove, the lanceolated leaves 
whispering in the winds. On the right, at the foot of two 
or three steps that led to a higher bank, was a stone lantern 
such as you see in temple grounds. On the top of the bank 



a cryptomeria threw a dark shadow, and a plum-tree near 
it was a mass of snowy white bloom. 

But what arrested our attention w^as a small flower-bed 
close to the cedarn pillars of the verandah. It was bor- 
dered with evergreens, and within we could see some daffo- 
dils, blue hyacinths and primroses. Mrs. Koizumi told us 
that the bed was called the "English garden," and that 
Hearn had bought the bulbs and plants and made the gar- 
dener plant them. Somehow that little flower-bed, in that 
far-away country, so alien to his own, seemed to me to ex- 
press most of the pathos of Laf cadio Hearn 's life. 

Here, ''overseas, alone," he had put in those ''English 
posies," daffodils, and primroses, and hyacinths, with a 
longing in his heart to smell once more the peat-laden at- 
mosphere of his Irish home, to see the daisy-strewn mead- 
ows of Tramore, and the long sunlit slopes of Lough Corrib. 

"Far and far our homes are set rouifd the Seven Seas, 
Woe for us if we forget, we that hold by these, 
Unto each his mother beach, bloom and bird and land — 
Masters of the Seven Seas, Oh! love and understand!" 




'^Evil winds from the West are blowing over Horai; and the 
magical atmosphere, alas ! is shrinking away before them. It lingers 
now in patches only, and bands, — like those long bright bands of 
cloud that trail across the landsca'pes of Japanese painters. Under 
these shreds of the elfish vapour you still can find Horai — ^but not 
elsewhere. . . . Remember that Horai is also called Shinkiro, 
which signifies Mirage, — ^the Vision of the Intangible. And the Vision 
is fading, — never again to appear save in pictures and poems and 
dreams. . . ." 

Before we took our departure Mrs. Koizumi — ^through 
the medium of Professor Tanabe — asked us again to honour 
her ** contemptible abode" on Friday the 26th, the day of 
the month on which the *' August One" had died, when, 
therefore, according to Japanese custom, the incense sticks 
and the lamp were lighted before the Butsudan and a re- 
past laid out in honour of the dead. 

That day also, she told us, Kazuo would conduct us to 
the Zoshigaya Cemetery where we might see his father *s 
grave, and place flowers in the flower cups before the tomb- 
stone. The invitation was gladly accepted, and with nu- 
merous bows on both sides (we were gradually learning how 
to spend five minutes over each hand-shake) we made our 
return journey to the Metropole Hotel. 

The four subsequent days were spent by my friends 
sight-seeing ; they went to Nikko, an expedition which took 
three days, and the feasibility was discussed of obtaining 
a permit from the British Legatio© to visit one of the 
mikado's palaces. But I felt no desire to §^ the abode of a 



europeanised mikado, who dressed in broadcloth, sat on a 
chair like any other uninteresting occidental monarch and 
submitted to the dictates of a constitution framed on the 
pattern of the Prussian diet. No sight-seeing, indeed, had 
any significance for me, unless it was connected with mem- 
ories of a half -blind, eccentric genius, not looked upon as 
of any account except by a small circle of literary en- 

The sphere which has been allotted to us for our short 
span, grants us in its daily and yearly revolutions few sen- 
sations so delightful as encountering social conditions, ma- 
terial manifestations, totally different to anything hitherto 
experienced or imagined. The impressions of those en- 
chanted weeks in Japan, however, w^ould have lost half 
their charm, had they not been illumined and interpreted 
by so sympathetic an expositor as the author of ''Glimpses 
of Unfamiliar Japan." To me, reading his books, full of 
admiration for his genius, the ancient parts of the city, the 
immemorial temples, the gardens still untouched by Eu- 
ropean cultivation, became permeated with spiritual and 
romantic meaning. A Shirahyoshi lurked behind every 
screen in the Yoshiwara quarter ; the ululation of the dogs 
as I heard them across the district of Tsukiji at night, 
seemed a howl in which all the primitive cries of their an- 
cestors were concentrated; every cat w^as a Tama seeking 
her dead kittens, while the songs sung by the children as 
they played in the streets gained a new meaning from 
Hearn's translations. I even wandered in the ancient parts 
of the city to see if I could find a Japanese maiden slipping 
the eye of the needle over the point of the thread, instead 
of putting the thread through the eye of the needle; and 
there, seated on zahutons in a little shop, as large — or rather 
as small — as life, I caught them in the act. How they 
laughed, those two little musumes, when they saw me watch- 
ing them so intently. I felt as I passed along that I had 



acquired another proof of the *' surprising otherness of 
things" to insert amongst my notes on this extraordinary 
land of Nippon. 

I fear I also violated every rule of etiquette by visiting 
Japanese houses in Tokyo without appointment, where I 
was told people lived who had known Hearn and could 
give me information concerning him. 

Professor Time, of the Imperial University, was one. In 
her "Reminiscences" Mrs. Hearn says that an hour or two 
before he died Hearn had told her to have recourse to Pro- 
fessor Time in any difficulty, and I thought he might by 
chance throw some light on Hearn *s last hours, and any 
dispositions of property he might have made on behalf of 
his widow and children. 

A very exquisite house was the professor's, with its grey 
panels and cedar-wood battens, its cream-coloured mats, its 
embroidered screens, and azaleas in amber-crackled pots. 
For half-an-hour I waited lying on a zdbuton (I had not 
yet learnt to kneel Japanese fashion), the intense silence 
only broken by the gentle pushing backwards and forwards, 
at intervals, of the screen that separated the two rooms, 
and the entrance of a little maid bringing tiny cups of 
green tea with profuse curtseys and bows. When the gen- 
tleman of the house did appear, he behaved in a manner 
so profoundly obsequious that I, despite a slight feeling of 
irritation at the time I had been kept waiting, and the vile- 
ness of the tea of which I had been partaking, grovelled in 
self-abasement. The moment I attempted, however, to 
touch upon the subject of Hearn, it was as if a drawer with 
a secret spring had been shut. The Japanese are too 
courteous to change a subject abruptly; they slip round 
it with a dexterity that is surprising. When I endeavoured 
to ascertain what communication Hearn had held with 
him, and if he had named executors and left a will — Koi- 
zumi San was fond of smoking and sometimes honoured 



his contemptible abode to smoke a pipe — further than that 
he knew nothing. The same experience met me at the Im- 
perial University (Teikoko Daigaku), where I was auda- 
cious enough to penetrate into the sanctum where the heads 
of the college congregated. Needless to say I was there re- 
ceived also with studied civility, but an impenetrable re- 
serve that was distinctly awe-inspiring. A slim youth 
was summoned and told to conduct me into the university 
garden, to see the lake, said to be Hearn's favourite haunt 
between lecture hours. There was no undue haste ex- 
hibited, but you felt that the endeavour to obtain informa- 
tion about the former English professor at the university 
was not viewed with any sort of favour by his colleagues. 

In the hotel were tourists of various nationalities, half 
of whom spent their time laughing at the * ' odd little Japs, ' ' 
the rest were divided between Murray and Baedeker, and 
went conscientiously the round of the temples mentioned 
in their classic pages. Two American girls were provided 
with Hearn's books, and had made up their minds to go 
off on an extended expedition, visiting Matsue and the 
fishing villages along the northern coast. 

A week of cloudless weather reigned over the land, and 
in company with these American ladies I went to various 
places of interest, clambering up flights of steps, along 
avenues leading to ancient shrines, under the dim shadow of 
centenarian trees; puzzling over the incomprehensible let- 
tering on moss-grown tombstones and sotohas, gazing at 
sculptures of Buddha in meditation, Buddha with uplifted 
hand, Buddha asleep in the heavenly calm of Nirvana. But 
all these smaller Buddhas sank into insignificance before the 
great Buddha of Enoshima, the celebrated Dai Batsu. 
Somehow as I stood before this colossal image of calm, 
backed by the cloudless eastern sky, a memory was recalled 
of the granite image that crouches on the edge of the 
Sahara Desert. The barbaric Egyptian had invested his 



conception with talons, and surrounded it with sinister 
legends ; but the same strange sense of infinity broods over 
both. Solemn, impenetrable, amidst the upheavals and de- 
cay of dynasties and people, the Sphinx sits patiently gaz- 
ing into futurity. Here, on this Japanese coast, tidal 
waves overwhelm towns, earthquakes and fire destroy tem- 
ples, but this bronze Buddha, throned on his lotus, con- 
templates the changes and chances passing around him, an 
immutable smile on his chiselled lips. Hitherto I had 
looked upon the people of this ancient Nippon as utterly 
alien in thought and point of view, but here, along roads 
thousands of miles apart, from out the centuries of time, 
oriental and occidental met and forgathered. No one 
knows if a master mind directed the hands of the artificers 
that hewed out the great Sphinx, or brazed the sheets of 
bronze to shape the mighty image of the Dai Batsu ; rather 
do they seem the endeavour of a people to incarnate the 
idea that eternity presents to man the vagueness and vast- 
ness of something beyond and above themselves. The hu- 
manity of centuries will be driven as the sand of the desert 
about the granite base of the Sahara's Sphinx, nations will 
break as the waves of the sea round the lotus-pedestal of 
the Kamakura Buddha, while, deep and still as the heavens 
themselves, both remain to tell mankind the eternal truth: 
ambition and success, exultation and despair, joy and grief 
will pass away as a storm passes across the heavens, bring- 
ing at last the only solution futurity offers for the tumult 
and suffering of human life — infinite calm, infinite rest. 

*'Deep, still, and luminous as the ether*' . . . was 
the impression made on Heam by this embodiment of the 
Buddhist faith, with its peace profound and supreme self- 
effacement. Is it to be wondered at that henceforth he 
attempted to reconcile the great oriental religion which it 
represented, with every scientific principle and philoso- 
phical doctrine to which he had hitherto subscribed? 



It was bitterly cold on the afternoon of Friday the 
26th ; even the shelter of the house at Nishi Okubo with its 
shoji was comforting after our long jinrikisha ride in a 
biting wintry wind. We had come prepared to find a cer- 
tain amount of sadness and solemnity reigning among our 
hosts, it being the month-day commemorative of the August 
One 's death. But we were greeted with the same laughter, 
bows, genuflections by the maid and little Setsu-ko as on 
our previous visit, while on the upper step of the genkan 
(entrance-room) with extended hands and smiling welcome, 
stood the slim figure of Tanabe. At first, when ]\Irs. Hearn, 
talking cheerily and gaily, led us to the alcove occupied by 
the family shrine, we thought for a moment that she was 
moved by a feeling of amusement at the eccentric little 
genius to whom she had been married. Then we recalled 
various incidents of our travels in the country, and Hearn 's 
essay on the Japanese smile : ' ' To present always the most 
agreeable face possible, is a rule of life . . . even 
though the heart is breaking, it is a social duty to smile 
bravely." Taught by centuries of awful discipline, the 
habit that urges people to hide their owti grief, go as to 
spare the feelings of others, struck us, when we mastered 
its signification, as having a far more moving and pathetic 
effect than the broken tones and ready tears of occidental 
widows when referring to the departed. 

The doors of the Butsudan were set T^dde open, and on 
the kamidan, or shelf in front of the commemorative tablet, 
stood a lighted lamp and burning incense rods. Tiny 
lacquered bowls containing a miniature feast of his favour- 
ite food, and vases of artificial sprays of iris were placed 
side by side. In front of Hearn 's photograph stood a pen 
in a bronze stand. This pen, we understood from Tanabe, 
was one of three that had been given to him by Mitchell 
McDonald. The one in the shrine was Kazuo's, presented 
to him in memory of his father, another was given to !Mrs. 



Atkinson by her half -sister-in-law that Friday afternoon, 
the third had been buried with the writer of Japan, be- 
neath his tombstone in the Zoshigaya Cemetery. 

As we stood in the study opposite the Butsudan the 
ghostly charm, the emotional poetry, of this vague and 
mysterious soul-lore that regarded the dead as forming 
part of the domestic life, conscious still of children and 
kindred, needing the consoling efficacy of their affection, 
crept into our hearts with a soothing sense of satisfaction 
and comfort. 

Yone Noguchi, in an account he gives of a visit to 266, 
Nishi Okubo, describes the spiritual influence of Hearn 
permeating the house as though he were still living. None 
of the children ever go to bed without saying, ^ ' Good-night, 
happy dreams. Papa San,'* to his bas-relief that hangs in 
the study. 

Morning and evening Mrs. Koizumi, a daughter of the 
ancient caste, subscribing to Shinto beliefs, holds com- 
munion with the august spirit. Now she murmured a 
prayer with folded hands, and then turned with that gen- 
tle courtesy of her countrywomen, and made a motion to 
us to occupy the three chairs placed in a row in the middle 
of the room. Kneeling down in front of us, she opened a 
cupboard under the shrine, pulled out a drawer wherein 
lay photographs, pictures and manuscripts that had be- 
longed to her husband, a photograph of Page Baker and 
his daughter Constance, and one of ^'friend Krehbiel with 
the grey Teutonic eyes and curly hair"; portaits also of 
Mrs. Atkinson and her children, one representing her eldest 
girl and boy in panniers on either side of the donkey that 
had created so much amusement in the establishment — a 
donkey being an unknown animal in Japan — when it ar- 
rived at Kumamoto. Another represented the Atkinson 
barouche, with its pair of horses, coachman and groom. 
The mikado 's state equipage was the only conveyance, these 



simple people told us, they had ever seen to equal its splen- 

It was very cold, and we frigid occidentals sat close to 
the apology for a fire, three little coals of smouldering 
charcoal that lay in the brazier. One of the ends of my 
fur stole fell into the ashes; I did not perceive it for a 
moment or two, until the smell of the smouldering fur 
attracted the attention of the others. Profound silence 
descended upon the company as they watched me extin- 
guish it with a certain amount of difficulty. I am certain 
they thought it an omen of some sort — everything amongst 
the old-world Japanese is looked upon as a good or bad 

Setsu-ko cuddled up to her aunt, either because she was 
cold, or because her mother — for politeness^ sake, I im- 
agine — told her that Mrs. Atkinson was her father's sister, 
and that she was to look upon her with the same respect 
as upon her father. Kazuo, Iwayo, and Idaho, Hearn's 
three boys, were there, all of them fine specimens of Eu- 
rasians. The remembrance recurred to me, as I looked 
at them, of Herbert Spencer's dictum on the subject of 
Anglo-Japanese marriages. What would Hearn have said 
if he had known that the ''greatest thinker on earth" had 
committed himself to the statement, in an interview with 
the Japanese ambassador in 1898, of the extreme inadvisa- 
bility of marriages between Englishmen and Japanese, de- 
claring that the children of mixed parentage are inferior, 
both in mental endowments and health. This statement, 
we may say, like many others made by the ' ' greatest thinker 
on earth," is flatly contradicted by fact. There are thou- 
sands of instances in the Far East of the fine race produced 
by the mixture of occidental and Japanese, especially, in- 
deed, in the Koizumi children, who are unusually healthy 
and intelligent. 

What a singular picture this family of Lafcadio Hearn 



made in kimonos and sandals, with their dark complexions, 
Irish eyes and Irish smile — for on each of them fate has 
bestowed a gift from the land of their father's birth — with 
the background of bookcases full of English books, the 
Buddhist shrine and Japanese kakemonos and ideographs. 

Some of the bitterest disillusionments of Hearn's life 
would most likely have been caused by his own children, 
had he lived to see them grow up. The ship of his eldest 
son's life that he spent his latter days "freighting and 
supplying for its voyage" would most likely have gone 
down on the sunk rock of alien blood and a different ** race- 

I doubt Miss Setsu-ko adapting herself to her father's 
ideal of unassertive femininity, or contenting herself with 
being merely a household chattel, subservient to mother 
and father-in-law, her knowledge of the world circumscribed 
by Kanbara's "Greater Knowledge for "Women." Was it 
my imagination, or did I see a slightly impatient, indul- 
gent acceptance on Kazuo's part of the little rites before 
the Butsudan, as if he looked upon them from the height 
of his modern education as a material weakness? 

"The Japanese child is as close to you as the European 
child," says Hearn, "perhaps closer and sweeter, because 
infinitely more natural, and naturally refined. Cultivate 
his mind, and the more it is cultivated the further you 
push him from you. Then the race difference shows itself. 
As the oriental thinks naturally to the left, where we think 
to the right, the more you cultivate him the more strongly 
will he think in the opposite direction from you. Finis: 
sweetness, sympathy. 

After the decoction, colour of pale whisky, that under 
the name of "tea," accompanied by tiny spongecake (Kasu- 
tera) — ^his Papa San's favourite cake, Kazuo told us — 
had been handed round and partaken of, jinrikishas were 
called, for our expedition to the Zoshigaya Cemetery. As 



we stood on the verandah before starting, a wintry ray of 
sunlight fell across the garden, and a breeze rustled through 
the bamboo-grove, stirring the daffodils and hyacinths in 
the flower-bed beneath. It was the last sunlight we saw 
that afternoon! Over the dusty Tokyo parade-ground, 
where little men, in ill-fitting khaki uniforms, Avere going 
through various evolutions on horses about the size of 
Welsh ponies — along by rice swamps, through narrow lanes, 
bordered by evil-smelling, sluggish streams of water (the 
Japanese may be clean inside their houses; outside, the 
streets of Tokyo are insanitary to an unspeakable extent), 
w^e prosecuted our journey, while a cold wind whistled 
round us, and ink^^-black clouds heaped themselves on the 
horizon. Wlien at last we reached the cemetery it seemed 
to have but little charm to recommend it. Nothing "was 
beautiful with a beauty of exceeding and startling queer- 
ness"; on the contrary, rather distressingly European, with 
straight gravelled paths and formal plots, enclosed by a 
box edging and a little wicket gate. I am under the im- 
pression that it was a portion of the Japanese cemetery al- 
lotted by government for the burial of *' foreigners " ; as 
no information was volunteered upon the subject, how- 
ever, we did not like to ask. Walking along the gravel 
path, behind Kazuo's kimonoed figure, we at last reached 
the tomb, distinguished by an upright granite slab, the 
same shape as Hearn's Ihai in the Buddhist shrine, slightly 
rounded at the top. A thick-set circle of evergreens, trans- 
planted from the Nishi Okubo garden by Mrs. Koizumi's 
orders, sheltered it behind. On one of the stones in front 
of the slab was an oval cavity filled with water ; two smaller 
round holes for burning incense flanked the larger one. 
On either side Avere bamboo cups in which flowers were 
placed. On the slab was the inscription — 

"Shogaku In-den Jo-ge Hachi-un Ko ji" — ** Believing 
Man Similar to Undefiled Flowers Blooming like Eight 



Rising Clouds, who dwells in Mansion of Right Enlighten- 
ment. ' ' 

The light was fading and the air felt bitterly cold as 
we stood beside the grave; the dark clouds that had lain 
in ambush, as it were, in the background, came driven 
across the sky by gusts of wind, swaying the thicket of 
evergreens and the tall maple and plane-trees beyond the 
cemetery boundary. Snowflakes began to fall, and, wdth 
the suddenness characterising all atmospheric changes in 
this unstable land, a thin coating covered the evergreens in 
a few seconds, and lay on the plum-blossom in the bamboo 
holders, placed on the stone platform in front of the tomb- 
stone. The **Snow Woman" (or Yuki-Onna), of whom 
Hearn wrote his strange legend, seemed to touch our hearts 
with her cold hand, as we turned and walked away, sad- 
dened by the thought of our kinsman, Lafcadio Hearn, 
whose name was on so many English-speaking lips at the 
moment, buried — an alien amongst aliens — in a Buddhist 
grave, under a Japanese name, thousands of miles away 
from his own land, his own people. 



Lafcadio Hearn's was a personality and genius which 
people will always judge from the extreme point of view 
in either direction. Most ordinary common-sense folk, 
with whom he came in contact, looked upon him as an 
odd, irritable, prejudiced little man, distinctly irreligious, 
and rather immoral ; but the elect few, admitted to his in- 
timacy, recognised the tender heart, luminous brain, gen- 
tlemanly breeding, and human morality that lay hidden 
behind the disguise of Japanese kimono and obi, or be- 
neath the flannel shirt, reefer coat, and extraordinary head- 
gear of his New Orleans days. As to his genius, the Eng- 
lish public, who consistently ignored it until a few years ago, 
are now inclined to blow his trumpet too lustily. He has 
recently been placed by critics amongst the greatest Eng- 
lish letter- writers ; declared to be "a supreme prose-poet," 
*'one of those whose influence will last through the ages''; 
while Miss Bisland, his American biographer, has no hesi- 
tation in locating him amongst the greater fixed stars in 
the literary firmament. 

If you cherish a deep sympathy for a man's intellect 
and character, the worst service you can render him is to 
veil his failings and qualities behind a mist of eulogy. 
Lafcadio Hearn, with his shy, sensitive nature, would have 
shuddered at the *' plangent phrases and canorous orismol- 
ogy" that have been bestowed upon him by his friends. 
Sometimes the idea may have vaguely come to him, "like 
the scent of a perfume, or the smell of a spring wind," that 
one day he might write something great ; but, on the whole, 
his estimate of his own mental powers was a humble one — 



*^not that he was modest in literary matters/' he says, on 
the contrary satanically proud, but like an honest carpen- 
ter who knows his trade, he could recognise bad workman- 
ship, and tell his customer : * ' That isn 't going to cost you 
much, because the work is bad. See, this is backed with 
cheap wood underneath — it looks all right, only because 
you don't know how we patch up things." 

Although in our day Hearn's work has an original and 
significant appeal, will it have the same for the genera- 
tions following us in the century on which we have en- 
tered? Each period brings in its train many literary inter- 
ests and fashions, which the next rejects ; but for Laf cadio 
Hearn's work there is no authentic equivalent, no sub- 

He had the extraordinary advantage of seeing a phase 
of civilisation of absorbing interest, and found himself 
well-equipped to interpret it. Evanescent in itself, he gave 
it stability and form, and, what is more, discerned the out- 
ward demonstration of a deep-lying essential ideal — ^the 
ideal that has influenced mankind so often through the 
centuries: oblivion of self, the curbing of natural appe- 
tites as a means to more elevated happiness and well-being 
than mere pleasure and self-indulgence. All this phase in 
Japanese life he has recounted in exquisite and finished 
prose, and for this alone will be prized for many a day by 
cultured readers and thinkers. 

Besides his Japanese work, his delightful letters have 
achieved a unique place in the literary world, because of 
the variety of subject, and because of that great incentive 
to literary interest and sympathy — the eternal answering 
of intellect to intellect, of feeling to feeling, of enthusiasm 
to enthusiasm. But when you declare him — as Miss Bis- 
land does in the Preface to the last volume of Letters — 
great as Jean Jacques Rousseau, it is well to remember what 
each accomplished. The author of the "Contrat Social" 



gave a new gospel to Europe, and initiated a social and 
political upheaval, the influence of which has lasted to our 
own day. Hearn was incapable of initiating any impor- 
tant movement, he never entered into the storm-swept heart 
of the world, outside his own mental horizon. He could 
interpret moods and methods of belief and thought, and 
pour forth a lyrical outburst on the subject of a national 
hymn, but his deductions from significant artistic move- 
ments in the history of occidental civilisation were neither 
broad nor unbiassed. A thing was so because he so viewed 
it at the moment; if his view varied it was not so, and he 
was equally firmly convinced the new aspect in which it 
appeared to him was right. If you disagreed with him, or 
attempted to argue it out with him, he would grow impa- 
tient, and throw up the game. He was quite incapable, 
indeed, of taking any view of a question but his owti, and 
he never was of the same opinion two days together. Un- 
mindful of the spaces of thought that lay between one 
method of sentiment and another, he swooped to conclusions 
without having really endeavoured to inform himself of 
details before discussing them. 

As to his feelings on the political development of Japan, 
so entirely conservative were his prejudices, and so intense 
his dislike of the modernisation of the ancient civilisation, 
that he found satisfaction in the insulting remarks cast at 
him as he passed through the streets of Kobe, and in the 
relinquishing of the instruction of English literature in 
their colleges. He declared his horror of the ironclads 
that Japan was adding to her navy, a fishing-boat with 
tatami sails, or a sampan rowed by men in blue cotton 
jerkins, was to him a far more impressive sight than the 
"Splendid Monster" that he saw at Mionoseki. Worthy 
of all praise, he stated, were the laws in the Chinese sacred 
books, that "he who says anything new shall be put to 
death," and "he who invents inventions shall be killed!'' 



Hearn's literary judgments were as capricious and 
biassed as his political ones. A mental nomad, he pitched 
his tent in whatever camping-ground he found by the road- 
side, folding it and moving on again whenever the fancy 
prompted him. Gautier, Flaubert, Tennyson, Percival 
Lowell, Edwin Arnold, Du Maurier, were some that abode 
with him for a season. 

It is doubtful if he had any discernment for ancient art, 
until late in his artistic career. His New Orleans Hellen- 
ism was the Hellenism of the banks of the Seine, in 1870, 
rather than the Hellenism of Greece. He dedicated the 
translation of Gautier 's tales ''To the Lovers of the Love- 
liness of the Antique World,'' whereas nothing was less 
antique than Gautier 's Parisian classicism, with its or- 
nate upholstery and sensuous interpretation of Greek 
fable. The very fact of Hearn's comparison between 
the art of Praxiteles and Phidias, and the grotesque 
whimsicality of Japanese imaginings, shows that he 
had not grasped the dignity and breadth of Greek cul- 
ture. He confesses that it was only when he was turning 
grey that he really understood the horror and the 
beauty, the reality and the depth, of Greek legend; of 
Medusa, who freezes hearts and souls into stone, the 
''Sirens singing with white bones bleaching under their 
women's breasts, and Orpheus, who sought Hell for a 
shadow and lost it. ' ' 

Hearn was a Latin, and follower of the Romantic in 
contradistinction to the Realistic school. "Have you ever 
attempted to mount some old tower stairway, spiring up 
through darkness, and in the heart of that darkness found 
yourself at the cobwebbed edge of nothing ? The emotional 
worth of such experience — from a literary point of view — 
is proved by the force of the sensations aroused, and by 
the vividness with which they are remembered." This 
prelude to one of his ghostly Japanese legends, with its 


frisson, its suggestion of awe, its mystery, its strangeness, 
breathes the very essence of Romanticism. 

Literary brother to Loti and Renan on his Celtic-Breton 
side, with their sense of style and the rhythm of the phrase, 
Hearn had all the Celtic longing for something beyond the 
elements of everyday life, gazing with longing, like the 
man in Meredith's poem, at the mist-veiled hills on the 
other side of the valley, losing his illusions, and sighing to 
return when he had attained to the reality of the vision, 
and found the slopes as stony, and the paths as rugged, as 
in the region he had quitted. At New Orleans the Celtic 
spirit of vague unrest led him to long for the tropics, or 
the Spanish Main; in the West Indies, he regretted the 
*' northern domain of inspiration and achievement," and 
towards the end of his stay in Japan, suffered from nos- 
talgia and the sense of exile from the land of his birth. 
In spite of his acknowledgment, however, of the greatness 
of the "West, and the appreciation of it, born of life in an 
alien land, he returned to the memory of his Japanese 
home — the simple love and courtesy of Old Japan and the 
charm of the fairy world seized his soul again, as a child 
might catch a butterfly. 

Combined with Celtic melancholy and dreaminess, he 
had also inherited, without doubt, some unhealthiness of 
mind. To all intents and purposes, he was at times a 
madman, and at others certainly very near the border- 
land of insanit}^ *' Mason is always sane,'* he says, 
*' whereas, for the greater part of my existence, I have 
been insane." It was this strange, unforeseen element in 
his nature that accounts for so much that is otherwise in- 
explicable. Impossible is it to say how much of the very 
strength of his work did not proceed from nervous suscepti- 
bility. If it made him subject to moods of unreasonable 
suspicion and self -tormenting dejection, it also gave him 
power to see visions and retain memories. 



His excitable mental attitude towards one of the ordinary- 
events of a literary man's career, the corrections of a 
printer's reader, *^tliat awful man, without wrath and 
wholly without pity, like the angels!" . . . The yells 
of anguish in bed at night, when he thought of the blun- 
ders in the proofs he had returned, discloses a piteous state 
of highly-wrought nerves. Hearn's strangely uncontrolled 
nature is certainly a striking exemplification of the state- 
ment that concentration on daily mental work is the best 
antidote to insanity. During the period, towards the end 
of his life at Tokyo, when most subject to attacks of coma 
and mental hysteria, he wrote his sanest book, a model of 
lucid historical narrative. ''Art! Art! Bitter decep- 
tion!" cries Flaubert. "Phantom that flows with light, 
only to lead one on to ruin." For Lafcadio Hearn, art 
was the one reality, the anchor that kept him from drifting 
to mental wreckage; out of his very industry and deter- 
mination grew a certain healthy habit of thought and life. 

It has been said that Hearn had no creative ability. 
With regard to his capability of writing a complex work 
of fiction, this is perhaps true, he had forfeited his birth- 
right to produce a Pecheur d'Islande; but on most of his 
Japanese work his individuality is unmistakably impressed. 
He had a wonderful memory and was an omnivorous reader. 
To Chamberlain he acknowledged that observations made 
to him, and ideas expressed, were apt to reappear again in 
work of his own, having, after the lapse of a certain amount 
of time, become so much a part of his thought, that he 
found it ''difficult to establish the boundary line between 
meum and tuum." We can see the verification of this 
statement by phrases and epithets, inspired by other writ- 
ers, scattered through his pages. "The Twilight of the 
Gods" is an echo of "The Burden of Nineveh." The sub- 
title, "Hand and Soul," of "Gleanings in Buddha Fields," 
was taken from Rossetti's prose romance. Keats 's sonnet 



on the ''Colour Blue/' probably prompted his essay on 
* 'Azure-Psychology." Yet, in spite of small borrowings 
here and there, how inviolate he keeps his own character- 
istics and intimate method of thought! Percival Lowell's 
*'Soul of the Far East" had enormously impressed him, 
even in America before he went to Japan ; but there is not 
a sentence akin to Lowell in "Glimpses of Unfamiliar 
Japan." He knew Kipling's writings from end to end, 
yet Kipling, in his letters to the Pioneer on Japan, after- 
wards published in a volume entitled "From Sea to Sea," 
is insensibly more influenced by Hearn than Hearn was 
ever influenced by Kipling. 

As to his knowledge of Japan having been gleaned from 
industriously exploited Japanese sources, he himself would 
have been the first to admit the truth of this statement. 
Nishida Sentaro, Otani, Amenomori, all contributed experi- 
ences, and by this means he came into possession of ac- 
curate and living sources of inspiration, that acquired a 
deeper significance as they passed through his imaginative 
brain. He endeavoured, as he says, to interpret the East 
to the West, on the emotional rather than on the material 
side. By the perception of his genius he enables us to see 
how the Japanese took natural manifestations and wove 
them into religious creeds, coarse and uncouth, perhaps, 
at times, but proving the \dtality of the hearts of the prim- 
itive folk surrounding him. He recognised that the peo- 
ple, the man in the rain coat, the peasant who tills the 
rice-fields and feeds the silk-worms, and weaves the silk, 
are those that have laid the foundations of the wonderful 
empire. The moralising of a decrepit old Buddhist priest, 
the talk of a peasant at the plough, the diary of a woman 
in indigent circumstances, with her patient resignation and 
acceptance of the cheerless lot, are told with pathetic sim- 
plicity and realism. 

Querulously he complained that people would Hot take 



him seriously, that they treated him as a fabulist. Inac- 
curate he may have been in some of the conclusions lie 
drew from superficial manifestations, and his outbursts of 
enthusiasm or dislike may be too pronounced to please the 
matter-of-fact man who knows not what enthusiasm means. 
**It is only in the hand of the artist, '* some one has said, 
**that Truth becomes impressive.'^ You can hardly take 
up a newspaper now-a-days without finding a quotation 
from Hearn on the subject of Japan. His rhythmic phrases 
seem to fall on men's ears like bars of melodious music, his 
picturesque manner of relating prosaic incidents turns 
them into poetic episodes, convincing the most* practical- 
minded that in dealing with a country like Japan, interpre- 
tation does not solely consist in describing the thing you 
see, but in the imaginative power that looks beyond and 
visualises what is invisible to ordinary folk. "What a per- 
sonal quality and profound significance, for instance, is to 
be found in his reverie in Hakata, the town of the Girdle 
iWeavers, as he stands in front of the enormous bronze head 
of Buddha, and sees the pile of thousands of metal mirrors, 
contributed by Japanese women, to make a colossal seated 
figure of the god ; hundreds had been already used to cast 
the head, thousands would be needed to mould the figure — 
an unpractical and extravagant sacrifice of beautiful things, 
but to Hearn far more was manifest than merely the gift 
of bronze mirrors. Into the depths of a mirror the soul 
of its owner is supposed to enter. Countless legends relate 
that it feels all her joys and pains, a weird sympathy with 
her every emotion; then in his fanciful, whimsical way he 
conjures up shadowy ideas about the remnants of souls, the 
smiles, the incidents of home-life imaged on their sur- 
face. Turning the face of some of the mirrors, and look- 
ing into their depths, he imagines the possibility of catieh- 
ing some of these memories in the very act of hiding away. 
**Thus,'' he ends, **the display in front of the Buddha 



statue becomes far more than what it seems. We human 
beings are like mirrors, reflecting something of the universe, 
and the signification of ourselves in that universe. . . . 
The imagery of the faith of the Ancient East is, that all 
forms must blend at last with that Infinite Being, whose 
smile is Eternal Rest. ' ' Thus subtly does he interpret the 
dim, far-reaching vision, and pathetic imaginings of a sus- 
ceptible people. 

As to Hearn's veering round in his opinion of the 
Japanese, which has by some been called insincere and 
double-faced, because while he was drawing a salary from 
the Japanese government, and adapting himself to Jap- 
anese social conditions, he was damning the Japanese and 
expressing his hatred of those surrounding him, the only 
answer to be given to those who blame him is to tell them 
to visit Japan, to reside in the primitive portions of the 
country, with its ancient shrines, quaint villages, courteous 
w^ays, and afterw^ards go to Tokyo or one of the open ports, 
see the modern Japanese man in bowler hat and American 
clothes — then and then only will they be able to understand 
what an artist, such as Hearn, must have suffered in watch- 
ing the transformation being effected. On the subject of 
Old Japan he never changed his opinion, which was, per- 
haps, from certain points of view, over-enthusiastic. This 
very enthusiasm, however, enabled him to accumulate im- 
pressions which, if he had been indifferent, w^ould not have 
stamped themselves on his imagination. Hearn's genius 
was essentially subjective, the outer aspect of his work was 
the outcome of an inward vision. "We should never have 
had this inward vision so clearly revealed, if it had not 
been, as it were, mirrored in a heart full of sympathy and 
appreciation. You must strike an average between his 
admiration and dislike of the kingdom of his adoption, as 
you must strike an average in his expressions of literary 
and political' opinid*n. 



In consequence of Hearn's railings against Fate, the 
world has come to the conclusion that his was a particu- 
larly ill-starred life. But the tragedy really lay in the 
temperament of the man himself. Circumstances were by 
no means adverse to the development of his genius. The 
most salient misfortune that befell him, the loss of his in- 
heritance, saved him, most likely, from artistic sterility. 
"With his impressionable nature, an atmosphere of wealth 
and luxury might have paralysed his mental activity. It 
was certainly a lucky star that led him to New Orleans, 
and later to the West Indies ; and what a supreme piece of 
good fortune was the chance that came to him of spending 
the last fourteen years of his life in Japan, before the 
ancient civilisation had been swept away. It was pitiful, 
people say, to think of Hearn's poverty in the end, but 
when you see his Tokyo house, with its speckless cleanli- 
ness, its peace, its calm, you will no longer regret that his 
means did not enable him to leave it. Japan was the coun- 
try made for him, and not the least benign ordinance that 
Fate imposed upon him was his inability to accept the in- 
vitation, given to him during the last years of his life, by 
University College, London. We can see him amidst the 
mist and fog in the hurry and bustle of the great city, the 
ugliness of its daily life and social arrangements : he would 
have quarrelled with his friends, with the university pro- 
fessors, with his landlady, ending his life, most likely, in 
a London lodging, instead of sinking to rest surrounded 
by the devotion and care of those that loved him. 

An intrepid soldier in the ranks of literature was Laf- 
cadio Hearn. His work was not merely literary material 
turned out of his brain, completed by his industrious hand ; 
to him it was more serious than life. He is, indeed, one 
of the most extraordinary examples of the strange and per- 
sistent power of genius, ''ever advancing,*' as he himself 
expresses it, ''by seeking to attain ideals beyond his reach, 



by the Divine Temptation of the Impossible!'* Well did 
he realise that the more appreciation for perfection a man 
cherishes, the more instinct for art, the smaller will be his 
success with the general public. But never was his de- 
termination to do his best actuated by any hope of pe- 
cuniary gain. From the earliest years of his literary ca- 
reer, his delight in composition was the pure delight of in- 
tellectual activity, rather than delight in the result, a pleas- 
ure, not in the work but in the working. According to 
him, nothing was less important than worldly prosperity, 
to write for money was an impossibility, and Fame, a most 
damnable, infernal, unmitigated misery and humbug. 

To enjoy the moments of delight in the perception of 
beauty ''in this short day of frost and sun," is the only 
thing, says Walter Pater, that matters, and * ' the only suc- 
cess in life." 

Judged from this point of view, Hearn's was certainly a 
successful life. To the pursuit of the beautiful his days 
and years were devoted. 

"One minute's work to thee denied 
Stands all Eternity's offence" — 

he quotes from Kipling. 

This it is that gives his career a certain dignity and 
unity, despite the errors and blunders defacing it at vari- 
ous periods. Man of strange contradictions as he was, there 
was always one subject on which he never was at issue either 
with himself or destiny. 

Like those pilgrims whom he describes, toiling beside 
him up the ascent of Fuji-no-yama, towards the sacred 
peak to salute the da\vn, so through hours of suffering and 
toil, under sunshine and under the stars, turning neither 
to the right hand nor the left, scorning luxury and ease, 
Lafcadio Hearn pursued his path, keeping his gaze steadily 
fixed on one object, his thoughts fixed on one aim. 



In one of those eloquent outpourings, when his pen was 
touched with a spark of divine fire, he gives expression to 
the pervasive influence of the spirit of beauty, ''the Eter- 
nal Haunter," and the shock of ecstasy, when for a mo- 
ment she reveals herself to her worshipper. Indescribable 
is her haunting smile, and inexpressible the pain that it 
awakens . . . her witchery was made in the endless 
ebb and flow of the tides of life and time, in the hopes and 
desires of youth, through the myriad generations that have 
arisen and passed away. 

What a lesson does Hearn teach to the sons of art in 
these days of cheap publication and hurried work. His 
record of stoical endeavour and invincible patience ought 
to be printed in letters of gold, and hung on the study wall 
of all seeking to enter the noble career. His re-writing of 
pages, some of them fifty times, the manner in which he 
put his work aside and waited, groping for something he 
knew was to be found, but the exact shape of which he did 
not know. Like the sculptor who felt that the figure was 
already in the marble, the art was to hew it out. 

As the years went by, the elusive vision ceased to consist 
merely of the beauty of line and form, and took the higher 
beauty of immortal things, emotions that did not set flow- 
ing a current of sensuous desire and passion, but appealed 
to those impulses that stir man's higher life, making him 
realise that there are enthusiasms and beliefs ** which it 
were beautiful to die for." 



Akira, 168, 170, 316. 

Alma Tadema, 57. 

Amenomori Nobushige, 168, 184, 
235j 267. 

American criticism, an, 145. 

Ancestor worship, Hearn^s views 
on, 143, 144, 149. 

Ancestral tablet, the, 253. 

"Ants," essay on, 293. 

Arnold, Matthew, 59. 

Arnoux, Leopold, 154. 

Asama-Yama, 144. 

Atkinson, Mrs., 4, 13, 217, 301, 
304, 313; letters to, 31-48, 56, 
67, 68, 86, 100, 112, 204, 221, 
252; visits Japan, 313 e^ seq. 

Atkinson, Mr. Buckley, 202. 

Atkinson, Carleton, 4, 49. 

Atkinson, Dorothy, 313, 317. 

Avatars, 4. 

Bakeb, Constance, 334. 

Baker, Page M., 106, 109, 236, 

Ball, Sir F., 255. 

Bangor, 26. 

Baudelaire, 63. 

Beale, Mr. James, 256, 257. 

Behrens, Mrs., 284. 

Berry, Rev. H. F., 43. 

Bisland, Miss Elizabeth, 110, 111, 
125, 133, 151, 267; marriage 
of, 188, 203; letters to, 158, 
180; joint-editor of Cosmopoli- 
tan, 130. 

Borrow, G«orge, 274. 

Boston, 261. 

Brenane, Mrs. Justin, 2, 14, 15, 

16, 21, 23, 26, 30. 
Bridges, Robert, quoted, 303. 
British Museum, image of Buddha 

in, 57. 
Bronner, Milton, 61. 
Brown, Mr., 202. 
Brownings, the, 59, 324. 
Buddha of Enoshima, 331, 332. 
Buddhism, 42, 141, 144. 
Butcher, Miss, 16. 

Calidas, 146. 

Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 112, 

165, 206; letters to, 116, 169, 

177, 191. 
*'Chinese Ghosts," 109. 
"Chita," 35, 36. 
Cholera at Kobe, 241. 
Cincinnati, 53, 65 et seq. 
Cincinnati Brotherhood, 114. 
Civilisation, attack on, 249. 
Cockerill, Colonel John, 74. 
Collins, Wilkie, 60. 
Commercial, The, Hearn joins, 

"Concerning Lafcadio Hearn" 

(G. M. Gould), 69. 
Conventual Orders, 2. 
Corbishly, Monsignor, 41, 42, 44, 
Corfu, 6-9. 

Crawford, Mrs., 18, 21. 



Crescent City, 94. 
Crosby, Lieutenant, 133. 
Cullinane, Mr. and Mrs., 53, 64. 

"Dad." Bee Watkin. 

Dai Batsu of Enoshima, 331. 

Dai Batsu of Kamakura, 142. 

"Dancing Girl, The," 194. 

Darwin, Charles, 59, 60, 140. 

Daunt, Mr. Achilles, 46, 48, 52. 

Delaney, Catherine, 53, 58. 

Dengue fever, 100. 

De Quincey, 289. 

"Dragon Flies," 285. 

"Dream of a Summer's Day," 24. 

Dublin, 5, 10, et seq. 

Du Maurier, 63. 

"Dust," Hearn's essay on, 49. 

Elwood, Frank, 25. 
Elwood, Mrs., 24. 
Elwood, Robert, 24, 25. 
Emerson, Miss Margaret, 311. 
Enquirer, The, Hearn on staff of, 

"Eternal Feminine," article on, 

"Exotics and Retrospectives," 

282, 283, 294. 

"Fantastics," 126. 

"First Principles," Spencer's^ 141. 

Flaubert, Gustave, 43. 

Foley, Althea, 81, 83, 180. 

Ford Castle, 3. 

Formosa, 200. 

Forrest, General, funeral of, 90. 

Foxwell, Professor, 120, 278. 

Franco-Prussian War, 62. 

Froude, James, 153. 

Fuji, first sight of, 162. 

Fuji-no- Yama, 144, 311. 

Fujisaki, Captain, 286. 

"Garden folk lore," 189. 
Gautier, Thgophile, 62. 
"Ghostly Japan," 283, 284. 
"Gleanings in Buddha Fields," 

273, 280. 
"Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan," 

163, 172, 268, 329. 
Gould, Dr. George Milbury, 69, 

149, 158. 
Greek culture, 342. 
Gulf winds, 35. 

Hall, H. H., 282. 

Halstead, Mr., 88. 

Hamamura, cemetery of, 9. 

Hana, 297. 

Harper's Weekly, 137. 

Harrison, Frederic, 143. 

Hawkins, Armand, 104. 

Hearn, Lafcadio, birth, I, 9; 
Hibernian ancestors^ 2; Eng- 
lish origin, 2; the interpreter 
of Buddhism, 4; maternal 
lineage, 4, 5; Hellenic associa- 
tions of birthplace, 9; mem- 
ories of Malta, 10; reminis- 
cences of childhood, 17; 
separation of his parents, 20; 
adopted by Mrs. Brenane, 21; 
his defective eyesight, 29, 45, 
48; relations with Mr. Moly- 
neux, 30 ; views of ideal beauty, 
36; at Tramore, 37; at school 
at Ushaw, 40; literary tastes 
at school, 43; unattractive ap- 
pearance, 49; in London, 52 et 
seq.; literary vocation, 55; 
Paris, 62; Cincinnati, 65; his 
shyness, 66 ; reaches the depths, 
68; servant in boarding-house. 



69; secretaryship, 74; on staff Hearn, Mrs. Charles, 4, 10, 12, 

of Enquirer, 74; ascends Cin- 
cinnati church spire, 76; his 
translations, 76; and Althea 
Foley, 81; and Marie Levaux, 
85; joins staff of The Commer- 
cial, 85; at Memphis, 88; des- 
titution, 94; fever, 100; Times 
Democrat, 105; method of ar- 
gument, 112; intellectual iso- 
lation, 112; intolerance of 
amateur art, 114; characteris- 
tics, 120; visits West Indies, 
131; letters, 135; marriage, 
134, 179-186; arrangement 
with Harpers, 137; political 
opinions, 142; visits Mr. Wat- 
kin, 148; the Krehbiels, 148, 
149; musical sense, 151; ar- 
rives in Yokohama, 160; ter- 
minates contract with Harpers, 
164; Professor Chamberlain, 
165; philosophical opinions 
and character, 167 ; appoint- 
ment in Matsue, 168; Japanese 
estimate of, 176; passion for 
work, 184; family, 200; nat- 
uralisation, 220; symptoms of 
physical failure, 242; devotion 
to family, 260; emotional 
trances, 288; love of animals, 
292; death, 299, et seq.; his 
religion, 310; funeral, 310; 
children, 336; personality, 339; 
biassed deductions, 341 ; lit- 
erary judgments, 342; his ro- 
manticism, 343 ; quotations 
from, 346; his opinion of 
Japanese, 347; estimate of his 
work, 348, 349. 
Hearn, Charles Bush, 4, 6, 7, 10, 
15, 16, 21, 22, 202. 

14, 21. 

Hearn, Mrs., 150; "Reminis- 
cences" of, 276. 

Hearn, Rev. Daniel, 2, 16, 61, 

Hearn, Leopold Kazuo, 219. 

Hearn, Rev. Thomas, 2. 

Hearn, Miss, 3. 

Hearn, Miss Lillah, 202, 203. 

Hearn, Richard, 10 et seq., 150, 

Hearn, Susan, 10 et seq. 

Hearn family in Waterford, 2. 

Henderson, Mr. Edmund, 74, 76. 

Hendrik, Ellwood, 125, 263; let- 
ters to, 154, 177, 261. 

Heron, Francis, 3. 

Heron, Sir Hugh de, 3. 

Hi jo, 189. 

Hirn, Professor, letter to, 67. 

Holmes, Elizabeth, 5. 

Hugo, Victor, 62. 

Huxley, Professor, 60, 141. 

"Idolatry," 37. 
Imperial University, Japanese, 

"In Ghostly Japan," 145. 
"Insect Studies," 293. 
"Intuition," 71. 
Ionian Islands, 5. 
Izumo, 262. 

Japan, discipline of official life 
in, 54; spirit of, 229; old 
Japan, 347. 

"Japan, an Attempt at Inter- 
pretation," 297. 

Japanese character, analysis of, 

Japanese constitution promul- 
gated, 158. 



Japanese day, a, 206. 
Japanese funeral, a, 312. 
"Japanese Miscellany, A," 284. 
Japanese regimen, 231. 
Japanese school classes, 201. 
Japanese training of children, 

Jefferies, Richard, 289. 
Jitom Kobduera Temple, 311. 
Jiu-jitsu, 201. 
Jizo-Do Temple, 315. 

Kentucky, 72. 

Keogh, Miss Agnes, 50, 

Kinegawa, 233. 

Kingsley, Charles, 277. 

Kinjuro, 189, 191. 

Kipling, Kudyard, 233, 271, 324, 

Kitinagasa, Dori, 243. 
Kobduera, Temple of, 261. 
Kobe, 168, 193. 
Kole Chronicle, 168, 248. 
Koizumi, Mrs. Setsu, 3, 27, 60, 

286, 300, 308, 314 et seq., 334; 

"Reminiscences" of, 122; letter 

of, 309. 
Koizumi, Idaho, 325. 
Koizumi, Iwayo, 325. 
Koizumi, Kazuo, 4, 217, 277, 300, 

312, 317 et seq., 337. 
Koizumi, Setsu-ko, 307, 321, 325, 
, 335. 

"Kokoro," 65, 109, 249, 251, 266. 
Krehbiel, Henry, 5, 26, 74, 78, 

79, 104, 112, 114, 152. 
Kumamoto, 13, 65, 193, 199. 
Kusa-Hibari (grass-lark), 295. 
Kusimoki marahige, 240. 
"Kwaidan," 24. 
Kyoto, 252. 

Kyushu, 200. 

"Lady of a Myriad Souls" 
(Miss Bisland), 113, 124-136. 

Lamb, Charles, 289. 

Levaux, Marie, 85. 

"Life and Letters of Lafcadio 
Hearn" (Wetmore), 263. 

Literary College, Tokyo, 3. 

Loti, Pierre, 29, 84. 

Lough Corrib, 25, 233. 

Louisiana, 92. 

Lowell, Percival, 345. 

"Luck of Roaring Camp" (Bret 
Harte), 77. 

Malta, 5, 10. 

Martinique, 155. 

Mason, Mr. W. B., 122, 143, 287, 

313, 315. 
Matas, Dr. Rudolf, 102, 152. 
Matsue, 142, 168, 172-178. 
McDermott, Mr., 73. 
McDonald, Capt. Mitchell, 108, 

126, 168, 267, 271, 276, 284, 

287, 299, 324, 333. 
Memphis, 88-92. 
"Midwinter, Ozias," 60, 89, 98. 
Mifflin, Houghton & Co., 208. 
Millet, Francois, 62. 
Mionoseki, ironclads at, 341. 
Moje, 238. 
Molyneux, Henry, and Mrs., 2, 

23, 28j 30, 50, 69. 
Montreal, 160. 
"Moon Desire," 290. 
Morris, William, 59. 
"Mountain of Skulls," 145. 
"My First Romance," 67. 
"My Guardian Angel," 29. 
Mythen, Kate, 28, 36. 



Nagasaki, 212, 232. 

New Orleans, 60, 85, 93-101; 
yellow fever at, 100; Exposi- 
tion at, 137. 

New York, 131. 

"Nightmare Touch," 28. 

Nishi Okubo, 261, 269, 286 et seq. 

Nishida Sentaro, 168, 181, 184, 
265, 345. 

Okuma, Count, 307. 

Osaka, 238. 

Saki, 308. 

Otani, 323. 

Otokichi, 280, 308. 

"Out of the East," 232, 243, 315. 

Papelliee, Dr., 243, 250, 270. 
Pater, Walter, 59, 349. 
Philadelphia, 131, 261. 
Pre-Eaphaelites, aims of, 59. 
"Principles of Ethics" (Spencer), 
cited, 140. 

Rachel, picture of, 71, 72. 

"Raven, The," 73. 

Redhill, 30, 45. 

"Romance of the Milky Way, A," 

Rossetti, D. G., 59. 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 340. 
Ruskin, 59, 288. 
Sackville, Lionel, Duke of Dorset, 


"St. Ronite," 44. 
Santa Maura, 1, 9. 
Schurmann, J. G., 305, 306. 
Seaton, Viscount, 7. 
"Serenade, A," 146. 
Setsu-ko (Koizumi), 307, 321. 
"Shadowings," 284. 

Shinto worship, 41, 144, 168. 
"Shirabzoshi" or "Dancing Girl," 

Shunki Korei-sai, 319. 
Spencer, Herbert, cited, 60, 139- 

143, 168, 324, 335. 
Steinmetz, General, 118. 
Stevenson, R. L., 28, 63, 289. 
"Stray Leaves," 109, 126. 
Suruga, 34. 
"Sylvestre Bonnard," 43. 

Takata, 25. 

Tanabe, Professor, 312, 321 et 

seq., 328. 
Tennyson, 59. 
Thomson, Francis, 40. 
"Toko, The," 204. 
Tokyo, 67, 260 et seq., 313. 
"Torn Letters," 129. 
Toyama, Professor, 254. 
Tramore, 2, 20, 28, 31, 33-39. 
Treves, Sir Frederick, 153. 
"Trilby," 63. 
Tunison, Mr. Joseph, 22, 45, 61, 

79, 152. 
"Two Years in the French West 

Indies," 108, 152. 
Tyndall, 60. 

"Ujo," 189. 
Ume, Professor, 330. 
Ushaw, 28, 29, 36, 40-51. 
Ushigome, 274-285. 

VicKEBS, Thomas, 74. 
"Voodoo Queen," 85. 

Waseda University, 301, 307. 

Waterford, 34. 

Watkin, Henry ("Dad"), 44, 65, 

66, 70, 73, 90, 100, 112, 147, 

102, 235, 258. 



Watkin, Miss Effie, 258. Wrennal, Father Williaai, 46. 
Weatherall, Mrs., quoted, 1$, 19, 

221. Yaidzu, 34, 279, 290. 

Weldon, Charles, 159. ''Yakumo," 221. 

West Indies, Hearn in, 148 et Yashiki garden, 260. 

seq. Yokohama, 270, 313. 

Westmeath, 2, 8. Yone Noguchi, 185, 263, 301, 318, 

Wetmore, Mrs. (Miss Bisland 334. 

q. v.), 273, 282, 299, 305, 307. Young, Mr. Robert, 143, 247, 313. 

Wexford, 36. Young, Mrs., 246. 

Whistler, James, 59, 63. "Yuko," 233. 

Wiseman, Cardinal, at Ushaw, Yvetot, 61. 


Worthington, Mr., 106. Zoshigaya, 278. 




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